April 22, 2019

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Uplift: Fun for everyone? We got this.

When children see a play structure, they play. But when children who use a wheelchair to get around see a play structure, for the most part, they watch.

Now, thanks to Canadian Tire's Jumpstart charitable program, there will be one play structure in a Winnipeg park fully accessible to children living with special needs.

Earlier this month, the civic protection, community services and parks committee voted to accept the gift from Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. If everything goes as planned, the first children will be playing on it by the end of August.

It's even more than a play structure: it's an entire playground.

It will have ramps so that wheelchairs can get onto the structure itself -- in fact they will be double-width so wheelchairs can pass each other. There will be specialized swings that a child can enter from their wheelchair. There will be a "Sway-Fun device," about the size of a compact car, which an entire wheelchair can roll onto and then other children can make it move it back and forth.

There will be teeter-totters with a larger seat a child can be lifted to, as opposed to traditional backless seats in which children have to balance. And there will be tubular bells which a child can hit and make ring while sitting in their chair.

And many other fun devices will be included - all provided free to the city, thanks to the donation by Jumpstart. The charity will even provide six park benches.

I know from experience this is not a small donation. A few years ago, I was involved in a school committee putting together a play structure and found that a single slide costs in the neighbourhood of a few thousand dollars -- about the same as the cost of a single ramp for a wheelchair to get on to the structure.

And, with a daughter who we push around every day in a wheelchair, I know that a playground like this is very much needed.

The estimated cost of this accessible playground is about $750,000. It's part of Jumpstart's $50 million commitment for over five years to give children living with special needs greater access to play and sports.

Scott Fraser, president of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, said their intention is to focus "on removing accessibility barriers to sport and play."

Fraser said their goal is to create universally accessible playgrounds in each province and territory across Canada -- to "set the new standard for inclusivity." Jumpstart has announced similar gifts in Toronto and Charlottetown.

A number of locations were looked at across the city for this flagship playground, but in the end it was decided to put it next to the Pan Am Pool. It will be close to Grant Park High School, which has by far the largest population of students with special needs in the province.

The city will spend about $150,000 on site preparation for the playground out of this year's previously approved parks and recreation enhancement program.

And, if after playing the child wants to get a book - or if a parent wants to get a book to read while their kid is having fun - its also beside where a planned library is slated to open at Grant Avenue and Cambridge Street in 2020.

Canadian Tire's slogan may be "you got this," but when it comes to playgrounds, their slogan could just as easily be "they get it."

Let's all be glad Winnipeg will get it, too.

– Kevin Rollason


Big bugs take over zoo

  • Grade 2 students are fascinated by a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach, one of 19 animatronic insects at the Assiniboine Park Zoo's new Xtreme Bugs exhibit.

    Grade 2 students are fascinated by a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach, one of 19 animatronic insects at the Assiniboine Park Zoo's new Xtreme Bugs exhibit.

    Want to see bugs that are way too big to squish? Well, are you in luck.

    The Assiniboine Park Zoo's special animatronic exhibit of Xtreme Bugs is now open and the price to see if comes with the regular zoo admission.

    It's intended to inspire children and adults to not just learn about bugs, but also why they need to be protected.

You can believe this online

  • A scene from Ronin Kubrakovich's video  “DON’T Believe Everything You See Online!”

    A scene from Ronin Kubrakovich's video “DON’T Believe Everything You See Online!”

    A multinational cyber security company has announced the winners of an international youth video contest - and the North American winner is a Winnipegger.

    Ronin Kubrakovich, of Winnipeg, took the honour for the best student entry for his video "DON'T Believe Everything You See Online!"

    The contest, open to schools and students in Canada and the United States, encourages students to explore issues related to safe and responsible use of technology.

Model job

  • Jennifer Milner of Panache Management.

    Jennifer Milner of Panache Management.

    It's one thing to run a company. It's another to be honoured as one of the best in the world by an international organization.

    Panache Management's Jennifer Milner has been named 2018's top model and talent manager of the year by the International Association of Top Professionals.

    And, as part of the award ceremony, which will take place in New York City in December, Milner's photo will be posted on the Reuters Building in Times Square.

St. Amant renovates

  • St. Amant centre resident Jonathan Faircloth, and mother Doreen Draffin laugh together in the newly renovated St. Amant living space in Winnipeg.

    St. Amant centre resident Jonathan Faircloth, and mother Doreen Draffin laugh together in the newly renovated St. Amant living space in Winnipeg.

    This Uplift began with a playground accessible for children living with special needs and we'll end with a renovation designed to help people with disabilities at the other end of life.

    St. Amant has been around for almost a century looking after children with special needs. It still has its large residence where children needing complex care are, but it has in recent years been transitioning to a community care model with more than 100 community sites and homes.

    Now, thanks to The Winnipeg Foundation, it is moving to change from a developmental centre to a complex health care facility. It also means when people living with intellectual disabilities need end of life care or extra health support there's a place they can go.

    The Foundation has paid to renovate a living unit so that it is more like a home with one person rooms and an area for shared meals, family time, and privacy.

YOUR WEEKLY SQUEEEEEEEEEE

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Chris Anderson and his children Carter and Ellie were out enjoying the Sizzler during the Buffalo Barbecue at the Heritage Victoria Community Centre on Monday.

Uplift is published weekly.

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