People for Playgrounds- Slide Into Action - Community Park.
Anita Lyons, on behalf of (People for Playgrounds Committee)
Atikokan, Ontario. P0T 1C0
September 27, 2012
Overview:Atikokan is a small town known as the "Canoeing Capital of Canada" located in the scenic Rainy River District, Northwestern Ontario. Our current population is just under 3,000 residents. Our town is the gateway community to beautiful Quetico Provincial Park located just 30 minutes south. It is one of North America's best places to enjoy wilderness canoeing. Our distance to the nearest community is 150km to Fort Frances, Ontario and 209km to Thunder Bay, Ontario, our closest city.
Atikokan, like many other small resource based communities in Northwestern Ontario consistently battles the economic up and down's. While we may be a small community we are no less a town that wants to thrive and continue to support families that live here and continue to welcome new ones.
Our insperation for a commuinity park comes from our Playground Committee, made up of mothers, grandmothers, agency representatives, a service club and town administration. The committee was created out of our community priority setting. When establishing local priorities in 2010, one at the top of the list was to;
Increase access to affordable physical activity and recreation options for Atikokan and area residents. There is no better way to promote physical activity and affordability then with a community playground. Currently the only play equipment available is at our schools. This play equipment is not inclusive and available at all times.
Building a playground is a huge undertaking. While supported by community members and our town council, resources are always limited. Our community population is very giving and having community come together to build the park will be the easy part. Funding the large amount needed for the equipment is the hard part. With a town our size there is only so many dollars to go around to support all in our community. We continue to fundraise but need a boost from a supporting funder like AVIVA to make our vision a reality. Our committee has developed a plan and has discussed equipment suitable for durability in our winter climate. The cost we are looking to have funded is $90,518.65 which would support our inclusive playground equipment with the town completing the labor cost of installation. Our vision is to have one really beautiful park that our community can be proud of and welcoming to those that live here and those that visit. We shouldn't have to travel 150km to enjoy a community park and have fun.
Creating supportive envirnoments and providing a safe and accessible recreation opportuntiy is essential for the health of all our residents. Parks are one way of enhancing the built environment and provide many benefits to users and to the communtihy as a whole. Research has shown that recreation and parks improve physical and mental health, provide a safe place for kids, opportunities for exercise, a sense of place in the community, open spaces with access to nature and opportunities to connect with others. (Pro recreation and Parks, 2009)
Families need to have safe places to play and be active. For small children playing is learning. Play has proven to be a critical element in a child's future success. Play hleps kids develop muscle strength and coordination, language, cognitive thinking, and reasoning abilities. (Lin resource data base.)
We envision our playground to have a safe turf for strollers and wheelchair accessibility, to have interactive play panels for children of all abilities. We have a design that encompasses activity for all ages that include: sky rail climber, orbiter spinner, bongo, driver and zoo panels, storefront, braille and clock , zoo panel. double slide, double swoosh slide, gemini slide winder, cliff climber with handholds, spiral climber, vertical ladder, deck links, vertical ascent climber, cool mist topper, shade toppers, stationary cycler, swing set including 2 baby seats and molded bucket swing and finally and elevated sand table.
Aside from the play structure we want to plant trees for future shade, build a shade shelter with picnic tables, and have benches for seating surrounding the structure. We want a place for picnics, parties, social gatherings and just a wonderful place to have fun.
Small communities need the support perhaps more than larger centres as we don't have the same sponsorship or the numbers in population to draw from. As small as a community Atikokan is, it is unnerving to travel to another community to enjoy a playaground or have visitors come and notice we don't have one. A community park is a huge drawing card for families that wish to relocate here. Our children and families deserve to have a community park with playground equipment now. Building the Atikokan Community Park will change our community for the better. What child doesn't like to go to the playground? What grandma doesn't like to take her grandchildren to the playground? We just need ONE!
"NEVER DOUBT THAT A SMALL GROUP OF THOUGHTFUL CITIZENS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD; INDEED IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT HAS." (Margaret Mead.)