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Calgary mom spearheads project to replace decrepit playground with accessible community hub

WATCH: A half-million-dollar playground project is in the works for a northeast Calgary community. A couple of Thorncliffe moms have taken it upon themselves to create what they're calling an accessible, inclusive playground they hope will become a community mecca. Sarah Offin gives us a look at why it's needed.

There’s not much sign in the slushy, melting snow that people have even attempted to make the trek into Thorncliffe’s quiet community playground.

Many will remember tall, steel slides from their childhood. At least one, albeit rusted, slide remains alongside a rickety teeter-totter, rusty spring horse, and old swings at 5600 Centre St. N.E.

“It’s usually pretty deserted… I don’t know if everything is safe,” said Amanda Ocampo, who is now spearheading a project to reinvent the tired park.

She and another Calgary mom created the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Accessible Playground initiative, which quickly turned into a half-million-dollar project.

Design plans for the Thorncliffe Greenview Accessible Playground.
Design plans for the Thorncliffe Greenview Accessible Playground.
Design plans for the Thorncliffe Greenview Accessible Playground.
Design plans for the Thorncliffe Greenview Accessible Playground.
An accessible zipline is part of the playground proposal.
An accessible zipline is part of the playground proposal. Thorncliffe Greenview Accessible Playground

“I thought: I live in this area, I have two little kids. I thought… we should have a big playground,” Ocampo said.

“I did not know what I was in for.”

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The playground has now seen support from a number of local businesses, charities and community associations, as well as the Calgary Park Foundation (CPF).

CPF has helped launch about 150 similar community-led projects in the past, with about 15 currently underway.

Ocampo said they have hosted a number of fundraising events, including an auction and a dance. They are now halfway to their goal: to create a new community hub with accessible pathways, gardens, a sensory slide and a unique zip-line.

“This one is side-by-side so there’s a button seat for kids to sit on and then there’s [also] one of those bucket seats for kids to sit on. So if you have limited mobility, you can sit in the seat, you lower the harness, and you can play side-by-side with your friend,” Ocampo said.

“It’s going to be the mecca.”

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The city plans to demolish the existing playground in August, making way for plans to break ground on the new project come fall.