Putting playground accessibility first
After seeing the world from a different angle, University of Lethbridge student Justin Turner is shedding light on park accessibility for people with disabilities.
Turner has firsthand experience dealing with mobility issues.
“On Christmas day 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition called Guillian-Barre syndrome,” he said. “And for about three months I had pretty serious limited mobility.”
After his diagnosis Turner was confined to a wheelchair. Through therapy he later advanced to using a cane, before eventually regaining full use of his legs. But the experience opened his eyes to the challenges some face every day.
“If curb cuts weren’t cut correctly I’d get stuck in the street,” he remembers. “Or if I would try to enter a restaurant my foot pegs – when I was in a wheelchair – would get stuck in the door.”
Turner is dedicating his honours thesis to the study of park accessibility and has already visited 23 across the city. His study found Lethbridge parks scored 75 per cent for accessibility, with new parks scoring significantly higher than older ones.
Lethbridge Parks Development Manager Chris Witkowski feels city parks are steadily becoming more accessible.
“Internally there’s a much better focus on accessibility,” he says. “Even with our standards we’re getting better with making things accessible.”
Turner hopes his study helps break down barriers and makes our city more accessible.