Accessible playground in Port Coquitlam levels playing field for kids

Castle Park elementary students  Maliya, Sigrid and Caitlin enjoy their new accessible playground addition. The Port Coquitlam school held a ceremony this week to mark the opening. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Castle Park elementary students Maliya, Sigrid and Caitlin enjoy their new accessible playground addition. The Port Coquitlam school held a ceremony this week to mark the opening.

Students are learning to play in new ways at Port Coquitlam’s Castle Park elementary school with the third construction of an accessible playground.

Officially opened Tuesday, the Play for All playground provides a rubberized surface instead of bark mulch for a soft landing and easy mobility, and ramps so children in wheelchairs can play with their peers. As well, the monkey bars, slides and other climbing equipment will keep children active for years to come.

Teacher Farah Hirji-Chung, whose daughter is a student at the school and uses a wheelchair, said the project puts the PoCo school at the top of the class when it comes to providing play opportunities for children with disabilities.

“All kids should be able to play together,” said Hirji-Chung, who said the project was developed in three phases and will cost $186,000 if another $30,000 can be raised to complete the project in about two years.

Hirji-Chung commended the parents of the Castle Park PAC for their vision to have a completely accessible playground and she appreciates the hard work and dedication of parents who helped get several large grants and sponsors for the project (those sponsors’ names are emblazoned on a sign near the equipment).


Castle Park playground

On the day The Tri-City News visited, students were playing a memory game together, spinning blocks with images and guessing which ones matched; they were also swinging on a zipline and hanging from monkey bars.

Hirji-Chung said previously, students in wheelchairs could only sit at the edge of the playground and watch or be lifted onto the bark mulch, where a chair could get stuck.

Now, children can maneuver about with little difficulty and Hirji-Chung said it has made a difference in how the students interact with each other. As well, students with other challenges such as autism and visual impairment also enjoy the new equipment.

She hopes other schools in the city will see the value and try to get similar playgrounds built.

“We just need to do a little bit more and hopefully it will bring awareness and encourage others to do the same,” she said.


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