New play­ground equip­ment for all-abil­i­ties park

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JA­NINE RANKIN

Memo­rial Park is be­com­ing Palmer­ston North’s best play­ground for chil­dren of mixed abil­i­ties.

New play equip­ment has re­cently been in­stalled that en­ables chil­dren with ac­cess and dis­abil­ity is­sues to join in, while it in­cludes most able-bod­ied chil­dren as well.

City coun­cil­lor Rachel Bowen, who holds the chil­dren and fam­i­lies port­fo­lio, was one of those who sup­ported sub­mis­sions to the coun­cil’s 2016-17 an­nual plan ask­ing for more ac­ces­si­ble play­grounds in the city.

As a re­sult, the coun­cil de­cided to spend an ex­tra $80,000 im­prov­ing ac­cess to re­serves for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, with at least $20,000 of that amount ear­marked for de­vel­op­ing Memo­rial Park.

Leisure as­sets of­fi­cer Rob Bel­lad-El­lis said the lat­est play equip­ment, as­so­ci­ated in­stal­la­tion costs and soft mat­ting un­der­neath came to just over $120,000.

The gear in­cludes a wheel­chair tram­po­line, a bas­ket swing, an ac­ces­si­ble carousel, log climb­ing, tun­nels, and var­i­ous in­ter­ac­tive play boards suit­able for the vis­ually dis­ad­van­taged, hear­ing dis­abled, or autis­tic chil­dren.

‘‘The new sec­tion is de­lib­er­ately lo­cated in amongst the other equip­ment to pro­mote in­clu­sive play for all kids.’’

Bowen said Memo­rial Park held a spe­cial place in the hearts of fam­i­lies who lived in Ter­race End and sur­round­ing neigh­bour­hoods, many of whom were not highly mo­bile.

A long term plan for its re­de­vel­op­ment was be­ing pre­pared to go out for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, but in the mean­time, the fa­cil­i­ties needed to be re­freshed, she said.

It would be the park where the coun­cil would fo­cus its ef­forts to

‘‘We're tak­ing a re­ally broad ap­proach to what dis­abil­ity and ac­cess mean, so peo­ple can play to­gether’’

Cr Rachel Bowen

cater for chil­dren with a range of dis­abil­ity is­sues, and in­clude them in play with their able­bod­ied friends.

The park al­ready had a wheel­chair swing, but it was locked up, and peo­ple needed to know who to con­tact for the key.

‘‘Most chil­dren do not want to play on spe­cial equip­ment while oth­ers watch them.

‘‘We’re tak­ing a re­ally broad ap­proach to what dis­abil­ity and ac­cess mean, so peo­ple can play to­gether.’’

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Fam­i­lies en­joy­ing the new equip­ment at Memo­rial Park.

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