Written by Natasha Ewing
On June 16, BC Parks unveiled the first playground with universally accessible features in Northern B.C. at Purden Lake Provincial Park. To celebrate, kids and adults were invited to come explore, play, and discover what “universally accessible” means.
As a new employee to BC Parks, I was elated to hear how committed to persons of all abilities the B.C. government is. The government’s goal is to make B.C. the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities. To help achieve that goal, BC Parks is completing accessibility audits across the province in all of its front country parks. BC Parks is also developing accessibility design standards and working with community organizations to improve accessibility, from boardwalks to restrooms to playgrounds.
Spinal Cord Injury B.C. is a leader in this movement and we are proud to partner with them in promoting accessible outdoor recreation. In the case of Purden Lake, employees from Spinal Cord Injury B.C. and Accessible B.C. reviewed the playground design and provided further recommendations to ensure accurate universally accessible features. The Purden Lake playground includes universally accessible features such as rubber ground tiles (so wheelchairs can better maneuver the playground) and ramps. For me, working with the Accessible B.C. team made me quickly realize how much I take for granted – simple day-to-day tasks that many folks across the province are unable to do.
During the unveiling of the playground, the park buzzed with energy as kids blew bubbles, ate cupcakes, hugged Jerry the Moose, and played on the structure for hours. Kids (and BC Parks Rangers) also got to experience how the universally accessible features contributed to the unique design of the playground by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes – or rather wheels – by testing out the newly installed ramps using Accessible B.C.’s wheelchairs. This was an incredible opportunity for experiential learning, and helped foster a connection between participants.
As the school year draws to an end and summer beckons, I hope that kids and adults of all abilities enjoy the new Purden Lake playground—it’s a place for new connections, inclusiveness, and community!
Thank you to all the folks and organizations who brought this vision into reality: Habitat Systems, Spinal Cord Injury B.C., Accessible B.C., Diversified Transportation, Quartz Contracting, the dozens of families who attended the celebration, and the many dedicated BC Parks employees.