Kids of all abilities can play together at 10 new inclusive playgrounds
The City of Calgary, Parks Foundation and the Government of Alberta have partnered to develop 10 new inclusive playgrounds where all Calgarians can play, no matter their abilities. Inclusive playgrounds cater to as many diverse needs and abilities as possible and challenge all children without segregation or stigmatization. A complete list of the 10 new inclusive playground locations can be found at calgary.ca/inclusiveplay.
The City and Parks Foundation partnered on the development of four of the playgrounds: the Elliston, Ramsay, Ted Harrison and Vivo inclusive playgrounds. Many of the playground projects were fast-tracked due to Provincial Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) funds. The 10th and final inclusive playground, located in Somerset, was completed in June.
“It is unprecedented to build this many new inclusive playgrounds in a few short months,” says Kyle Ripley, Director of Calgary Parks for The City of Calgary. “The funding we received from the Province and the efforts of our partners significantly accelerated the design and construction of these playgrounds. I commend our Parks staff for moving quickly to take advantage of these funding opportunities and working with partners like the Parks Foundation to bring these new amenities to Calgarians sooner than expected.”
Unlike typical play areas, inclusive playgrounds are designed to address the needs of a much wider group of children. They are barrier-free and accessible to children and caregivers with mobility challenges and have features like directional braille indicator signs to help those who are blind or partially sighted navigate and enjoy the playground. These playgrounds also include enclosed or semi-private areas where children can take a break when they are feeling overstimulated. The City aims to have an inclusive play space or recreational opportunity within a 5 km radius of every Calgarian as part of the Council-approved Inclusive Play Spaces Implementation Plan.
“Playgrounds should offer something for everyone, regardless of ability and age,” says Sheila Taylor, CEO, Parks Foundation. “At the Parks Foundation, we were honoured to be a partner in creating playgrounds that broke down barriers to play and participation that are all too common in traditional play spaces.”
“The Municipal Stimulus Program was set up to support jobs in Alberta’s communities,” says Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “It also allows municipalities to grow, and recover from the past two years of economic hardship. These inclusive playground projects support all of these goals, and allow kids of all abilities a chance to play together in a stronger, healthier and more inclusive community.”
The remaining funding for these projects came from a variety of sources including the Calgary Parks capital budgets, Parks Foundation grants, community-raised funds and other donors. In particular, the Elliston, Ramsay and Ted Harrison inclusive playgrounds received Alberta Government’s Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grants.
The Government of Alberta provided a total of $4,628,353 in funding through MSP and CFEP grants in 2021 to support the 10 inclusive playground projects.
Visitors to these playgrounds are encouraged to provide The City with feedback that will help guide the design of future inclusive playgrounds.