Charmaine Bellamy is a mother of one of the students at John Dolan School in Saskatoon which held the grand opening yesterday for its new outdoor sensory playground. The school for intensive-support students for children starting at age 3 who require a high level of care has never had its own playground.
Bellamy says her son Luke is 12, has autism, is non-verbal, and has never found any enjoyment in the past when visiting a playground. But the first time he went to the new playground at his school, was a special day.
“There were two typical kids on the two swings beside him, swinging. I…I looked at him and I saw him being able to do the same things as other kids and if we develop a playground that is suited for these kids – they can all be participating in the activities. And I sat there and watched them all swinging, the first time I’d seen that in 12 years, and I thought, this is the definition of inclusion. This is all kids with differing abilities able to do the same thing.”
The playground was made possible through a private anonymous donation, fundraising drives and a $25,000 donation from the Kinsmen Foundation. The cost is about $560,000 which helped build the playground and will go to the maintenance for the lifetime of the playground.