Wheelchair-accessible playground in Innisfail

Innisfail’s first wheelchair-accessible playground should be open for fun on Monday.

Sarah Lischer and Manuela and Darren Schaedeli work at piecing together a component of a new playground being assembled outside the Chinook Centre School in Innisfail. This week

Sarah Lischer and Manuela and Darren Schaedeli work at piecing together a component of a new playground being assembled outside the Chinook Centre School in Innisfail. This week

Innisfail’s first wheelchair-accessible playground should be open for fun on Monday.

Chinook Centre School’s parent advisory council and volunteers installed most of the new equipment on Thursday, transforming the playground into a handicapped-accessible play area.

Rubber mats have been put down until a rubber surface is poured next spring.

By Monday, a safety inspection of the site should be complete and children will be able to expend some of their energy.

Katia Brosseau, president of the parent advisory council, said there will be plenty for all children to do at the upgraded playground at 4931 52nd St. in Innisfail.

“Wheelchairs can go anywhere. There’s no one who has to watch from the sidelines,” Brosseau said on Friday.

The playground is filled with ramps, slides, a climbing wall, panel boards, tunnels and more. Equipment is appropriate for children aged five to 12.

But the playground isn’t just for students at the year-round kindergarten to Grade 4 school — it’s open to everyone.

Replacing the old, cracked interlocking rubber tiles with a poured rubber surface means knees will be safe from scrapes. And it’s better than sand, which makes it difficult for wheelchairs to manoeuvre, she said.

The parent council fundraised half the cost of the $135,000 project, with the rest paid by a provincial grant, which can’t be announced until the cheque is received, she said.

About 25 people helped construct the new playground, including Innisfail Kinsmen members, who also contributed $4,000 to the project.

Brosseau said on Thursday morning that the playground looked like a yard full of metal pieces.

By Friday, most of the parts were together and in place — children could hardly wait to get their hands, feet and wheelchairs busy.

“It’s a work of art for our children. It’s just gorgeous.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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