Burnaby parks and rec provides adapted equipment

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BACI family skating party made use of sledges
Tuesday January 3, 2012 — Deb Bartlett

The voices of supporters of people who have a disability have been heard at the City of Burnaby’s parks and recreation department.

The encouragement by staff members and families of Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) to provide the means for inclusive recreation has resulted in the provision of adapted equipment over the past 15 years, including weight room equipment, an accessible potter’s wheel and sledges for skating.

The sledges were recently a highlight during BACI’s family skating party, held Dec. 9 at Kensington Arena.

Fourteen BACI family members attended the skating party, which was held during a family skate.

Family information and support worker Carol Stinson says two sledges are always available at two public rinks for families to use during the adapted public skate and an extra support person is scheduled to support non-skaters.

“Sarah (Baumbusch) and I like to work with Burnaby parks and rec on these events since this special adapted skating event is held during a regular public skate,” says Carol.

“There are so many nice ways this works with our inclusive beliefs. Over the years, we have encouraged Burnaby parks and rec to do this, not have ‘special’ programs,” she says.

The sledges are available all the time, but not all families know about them, she says.

If more families knew the sledges were available, they could always attend typical family or public skating.

The sledges have been adapted so they can be pushed by an able-bodied skater with a handle that fits into to the back of the sledge, says Carol.

The sledge can be used independently by removing the handle and using picks for pushing.

Carol says Burnaby parks and recreation offers orientation sessions with staff at the leisure centre to learn how to use typical equipment and the specialized equipment.

“This can really help people who are not familiar with the various steppers and treadmills feel comfortable enough to attend during typical open sessions,” says Carol.

She says about 15 years ago, families who had children or other family members with disabilities didn’t feel welcome at city leisure facilities, and asked the city to make programs accessible.

Carol says city staff members have been trained on the variety of equipment and its use, and on policies. The education means families can attend programs stress-free.

To comment on this story, or to share your experience with feeling included in the community, contact Deb at 800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail deb(at)axiomnews.ca.

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