Chantelle Fournier and her daughter Brook Barker (10).

 

May 27 – The new Delcrest Park playground in Delhi isn’t just a welcome sight for Norfolk County youngsters but parents as well.

“I’m able to go on the surface as opposed to sitting on the side and watching my daughter play,” said Chantelle Fournier, a member of the Norfolk County Accessibility Advisory Committee who uses a wheelchair.

“With these kinds of parks, I can interact and be right there having fun with my daughter.”

The project was funded by the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) in the amount of $50,000.

“It’s a new world,” Fournier said. “It’s a new opportunity that I couldn’t explore or discover with my daughter otherwise. The more opportunities that we get, the more we try.”

The structure replaces the old playground on the same site, which was erected in 1994 and was no longer suitable. The site includes both standard and accessible parking nearby, and will now be able to welcome children who might not have had the opportunity to play there previously.

“Norfolk County is a welcoming, inclusive community, and our parks should reflect that,” says Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp. “I’m so proud that we’ve been able to remove barriers to fun for families at Delcrest Park – that’s something truly worth celebrating.”

The new equipment is expected to attract more camps, play groups, school trips and further promote daily exercise, build communication and help cultivate social skills amongst the county’s youth.

“The event comes at a fitting time as it happens in conjunction with National Access Awareness Week (May 27 to June 2),” noted Shelley Darlington, Norfolk County’s Director of Corporate Support Services.

National Access Awareness Week was established in 1988 in response to Rick Hansen following his Man in Motion World Tour. Its aim is to affect meaningful change in the daily lives of people with disabilities.

The EAF Community Accessibility Stream provides funding for projects that help improve accessibility in communities across Canada through renovations, retrofits, construction or providing information and communications technologies for community use.

Norfolk County has been successful in receiving EAF grants for:

  • DAISY Readers – Norfolk County Public Library
  • Accessible Washroom – Delhi Community Centre Arena
  • Accessible Playground – Lakeview Park
  • Pool Lift – Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre
  • Accessible Beach Mats – Port Dover Beach

“Norfolk County is proud of the numerous accessible projects that have been undertaken over the past few years,” said Darlington. “Accessible recreation is a vital part of a healthy community which brings families and children of all abilities together and promotes physical and social activity.”

 

These projects helped bring Fournier and her family back to the area. Two decades ago, she moved to Kitchener seeking a more accessible community but has since returned home.

“I started coming back and noticing we were getting bigger stores which means more accessibility and more growth,” Fournier explained. “From where Norfolk was 20 years ago to now is unbelievable. For being a small community, they’ve all come together in making everything more accessible and making more opportunities for people like me and people in general.”