New canopy bench platform glider at Ferland Park, Vanderhoof. Photo Fiona Maureen

Swing makes Ferland Park fun for all

Kinette project helps makes Vanderhoof an inclusive community

A new wheelchair-accessible swing has been added to the playground at Ferland Park at a cost of at least $18,000.

Most of the money raised, was thanks to efforts by the Kinette Club of Vanderhoof and Kinsmen Foundation of B.C. and Yukon. Other partners include the District of Vanderhoof who provided inkind labour for prepping and installation, Harold Giesbrecht from Nechako Redi-mix who donated the concrete for the foundation and Northern Monumental who made the recognition plaque for a reduced price.

The glider bench platform swing was installed in the late fall of 2016 and the official ribbon cutting ceremony was held just recently at the end of May. It is a significant addition to, not only the park itself, but the community in general.

While the wheelchair swing is designed for specific needs, it is intended for anyone of any ability.

The bench glider platform has space for at least two wheelchairs side by side, and at least four friends/family members can sit on the bench opposite. So everyone can swing together.

A gentle incline ramp provides wheelchair access and an overhead canopy provides shade making it comfortable and safe to use even in the heat of the day. Solid hand rails all around provide convenient support and the beautiful cedar platform shows high quality craftsmanship. It’s a very sturdy piece of equipment that should bring joy to all park visitors for many many years. It’s an inviting bench swing suitable for all ages and abilities and is especially well placed for adults, parents and seniors looking out over the area where children run around and play in the splash park. It’s solid enough that when you’re seated on the bench and someone else steps onto the gliding platform it holds steady and the motion is not affected or disrupted, yet it’s easy to get going with just a slight push or transfer of weight.

Kinette President Laura Goodwin said “it’s just another way in which the Kinettes are adding to the community’s features and assets”.

“We are looking to continue to make good use of the generous funds that we secure from donations and support for our community projects like Santa’s Anonymous. That’s where the money for this swing came from – at least three years of fundraising.” Laura added; “This is a very special project for us because it illustrates that Kinettes and Kinsmen are here to serve the entire community, and we’re very conscientious about this.”

What better place for a swing that absolutely everyone can use, than right here next to where children are playing?

There’s so much more to this piece of equipment than initially meets the eye. The design and location was carefully considered, mindful of reducing the stigma around individuals with special needs. It helps bring everyone together, creates awareness, and gets everyone enjoying the park together. The swing not only encourages physical activity. It provides an opportunity to engage people socially. It may be designed to accommodate special needs, but really it’s for everyone, any child or adult. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy the relaxing, soothing motion of gliding or gentle swinging?— it’s increasing mental health as well.

The ribbon cutting was a moment of pride for Mayor Gerry Thiessen who was happy to see the playground enhanced. “It’s a big deal to have this in here, and I’m excited for the community,” he said. “It gives us the chance to have a place where everybody gets to play and enjoy the park together.”

“The idea is that no one should be excluded,” said Thiessen. “We don’t want to see anyone in a wheelchair have to stop at the edge of the playground. That’s been the whole idea, to continue efforts to make Vanderhoof a welcoming, inclusive and accessible community.”

 

Plaque by Northern Monumental Photo Fiona Maureen

Kinettes Judy Kelly, Natalia Moe, Donna Wiebe holding the banner. Mayor Gerry Thiessen and Harold Giesbrecht of Nechako Redi-Mix ready to cut the ribbon with Kinettes President Laura Ann Goodwin. Photo Fiona Maureen