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John Dolan School parents struggle to raise money for an accessible playground
Laura Woodward, CTV Prince Albert
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:35PM CST
Ten-year-old Leah Fehr can’t play at her school’s park.
Since Fehr is in a wheelchair, she can’t swing at the John Dolan School’s swingset.
“People tend to think that people like Leah don’t care what they do, but Leah is a very active person. She gets bored,” Naomi Fehr, Leah’s mother says.
“So this playground isn’t really useable. If she comes outside she doesn’t want to just sit under a tree. She wants to do something.”
The parent council at John Dolan School are aiming to construct a “sensory playground”.
The sensory playground will be wheelchair accessible and will be filled with different textures and elements — like sand and spraying water.
Focusing on touch is stimulating for children with autism and special needs.
“I thought spray park was kind of strange to spray kids that are in wheelchairs, but you just mention something like that and it’s just excitement in the way they move their hands or their bodies around in the wheelchairs. It’s going to be huge for these kids,” Robin Bellamy, co-chair of parent council, says.
The park will not only be for children with special needs, but for all kids.
Kathy Chambers, co-chair of parent council, says the park will be a good way to integrate the children.
“Right now it’s like being the kid at the dance that’s standing at the wall and that’s what it’s like with these kids, they need a chance to be included,” Chambers says.
“John Dolan is an amazing school, but there’s nothing that these guys can be included in the community with. If we have something here, we can actually invite people into our community.”
The sensory park will cost $500,000 and the council has raised $30,000 in the past year.
Bellamy says the parents of kids with special needs are struggling to raise half a million dollars because they’re such a small community.
“On top of that, the small community is so involved with their kids that have autism or are paraplegic so there’s a lot of work for the parents to do, so they don’t get out much as is,” Bellamy says.
The parent council has started a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise the funds.
Bellamy says once they raise the money, they will contract out the design and build the park.