Variety Park was an initiative by Variety Alberta, to provide a space for children of all abilities to be able to come together and play.
Investment from Variety Alberta, the Alberta Lottery Fund and community supporters, Variety Park was completed in 2002. The 1.2-acre park is located at 90 Avenue and 24 Street S.W., Calgary, adjacent to Glenmore Reservoir with access to the public cycle path.
The park includes preschool and school-age play areas, splash park features and picnic areas for all families to enjoy. The park is also specifically designed for children with mobility impairments, with features that include:
Rubberized safety surface rather than conventional pea gravel to allow for easy rolling of wheelchairs; and
Ramps and a wide play structure to allow for wheelchairs.
Variety Park was refurbished in 2015 with an innovative internal water treatment and pumping capability and UV disinfection system that reduces the need for water changes and chemical treatment.
Variety Park Expansion Plan
Variety Alberta’s goal is to expand upon Variety Park and include even more accessible play spaces. The park was built with the goal of creating an accessible play space for all children, including those in wheelchairs or using other assistive devices. However, developments in inclusive playground equipment and park design has grown tremendously since 2002 and awareness of other disabilities and equipment to match these have been developed.
Our ultimate goal is for all communities in Alberta to become fully accessible and inclusive. Beginning with Variety Park, we will be upgrading and expanding Variety Park to provide better and updated accessible equipment that will provide an engaging and inclusive play experience for children with various disabilities including mobility, cognitive, developmental and sensory disabilities. We are raising funds to purchase more inclusive equipment to ensure that regardless of ability there will be something for everyone to do and play within a shared play space.
We believe barriers can be removed though education, increased awareness and creating environments of acceptance, understanding and celebration of differences. We know that misunderstood beliefs that people can foster can be a huge barrier to acceptance and when we create environments and/or situations that allows for equal opportunity for all individuals to come together to play, then it allows for learning about and accepting of differences.
Variety Alberta is working with the City of Calgary Parks Department, Calgary Foundation, Parks Foundation – Calgary and the Rick Hansen Foundation to plan, coordinate and help with fundraising.
Variety Park Preliminary Plans
Click image below for larger size.
Accessible, Inclusive Park in Australia:
A video that shows the importance of having inclusive playgrounds for children who have ability diverse needs and the value of creating environments where children of all abilities can play together in a positive, and all encompassing space.
Variety Park Community Forum
On November 9, 2016 Variety Alberta held an Accessibility Enhancement Initiative Consultation Forum and brought together a wide range of community members, ability diverse organizations, scholars, playground designers and funding partners who have an interest in improving accessibility and inclusivity for children with disabilities in Alberta – specifically as it relates to play and playgrounds.
In researching accessible play spaces, we had learned that there is a need for coordination and support to promote and assist communities to consider accessibility and inclusion when they are building or upgrading playgrounds.
Goals for Forum:
To learn from various individuals with diverse backgrounds in the disability community that have experience, knowledge, and interest in creating fully inclusive play spaces for children and families;
To identify current gaps that exist in building accessible and inclusive playgrounds; and
To have Variety Park become a beacon for inclusion and accessibility in playground design and work with communities within our province to build playgrounds with an inclusive lens.
What We Learned from the Forum:
The forum identified the latest issues and developments regarding environmental and equipment designs and features that address ability diverse needs and the opportunities to enhance play, socialization, inclusion and activity. Funding opportunities, possible partnerships and strategies for future collaboration were discussed.
Thank you to everyone who attended and shared their ideas, information and knowledge/past learnings with us!
It was a very successful and informative event!