Students, teachers, donors and friends gathered Wednesday, Sept. 30, for the official opening of Cedar Grove Elementary School accessible play park in Elphinstone.
"It's just been so wonderful to see the support in the community for the idea of creating an accessible venue increase over the years," project co-ordinator Diane Henley said in an interview prior to the event. "When you look at the list of donors and people who have helped in the community, it's just overwhelming."
The $250,000 project has been in the works for five years.
"I thought it doesn't make sense to put in a new playground and not have it accessible for everybody," she said. "So we embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign and a lot of research over a couple of years about accessibility standards and things like that."
Fundraising has included a silent auction, which raised $12,000, and a penny drive, which raised $1,800.
"We rolled 180,000 pennies," she said. "The Brinks truck was thinking of coming to get them. The banks just didn't know what to do with them."
Equally, she said, the fundraising drives raised local awareness of the issue. Physiotherapists, children and parents were consulted over the course of the project and helped drive the direction of the project, Henley added.
"One of the things that stood out in our minds was parents talking about the fact that sometimes when you go to an "accessible" playground, there's a little ramp to one section and then that's it," she said. "And we really didn't want to do that. We wanted for somebody who was in a wheelchair to be able to get around the whole site."
The result of five years of labour is an elaborate set of structures which, she said, are accessible for all levels of mobility, and also for all ages.
"It has been amazing to see all the different ages of people in the community there, whether they're teens or grandparents or families or young kids," she said. "There's just something for everybody."