A new inclusive park in the borough of Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension was inaugurated Tuesday.
The massive playground in Julie-Hamelin Park is said to be the largest adapted play area in the Montreal region.
The project was funded and organized by both the borough and Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart foundation.
The red and grey apparatuses and space are universally accessible, creating a fun and interactive space for children with or without disabilities.
“Playgrounds are often gathering places for children, parents and neighbours from the same community, which promotes the development of important social relationships and opportunities for growth,” said Marco Di Buono, Canadian Tire Jumpstart chief operating officer.
The park is said to be geared for two- to 12-year-olds and cost a total of $4 million.
The borough allocated $2.6 million to fund the project.
It’s a small price to pay for play, according to advocate Linda Gauthier of RAPLIQ, a Quebec-wide organization that supports and assists people with disabilities.
“All the parks should be like that. They should retrofit the installations one after the other,” Gauthier said.
“Being a child and you go to a park and you can’t play with other kids, it breaks your heart.”
This state-of-the-art facility has been thoughtfully designed with children with sensory, cognitive or physical limitations in mind, organizers said.
It offers barrier-free gear, poured-in-place rubber surfaces and wide ramps that allow easy wheelchair access.
Slides have been designed with transfer benches, allowing children with disabilities to move over of their own volition without the fear of being hit from behind, Di Buono said.
“The value of play for underserved youth is really what is going to help them achieve the best version of themselves,” Di Buono said. “Even something as simple as a playground.”
Di Buono says inclusive spaces are meant for fun but allow life skills to flourish, helping children build physical literacy and confidence and interact with other kids.
“It’s more than a playground,” he said.
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“We are very proud to see the materialization of the donation offered by Bon Départ! This new inclusive, quality equipment will allow the Montreal community, young and old, living with or without disabilities, to enjoy the benefits of outdoor play,” said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, borough mayor.
The park also boasts a splash pad, an outdoor training centre, a BenchFit trail, picnic areas and a renovated basketball court.