As a young mother, Doris Paquette always looked for-ward to taking her children to playgrounds so they could socialize and she could meet other parents. She recalls a time when a child using a wheelchair came to the playground and had no options but to watch other children play from a distance. In that instance, Paquette knew she wanted to do something to improve playground accessibility.
“We talk about inclusion as a society, but we don’t always make changes to our infrastructure to support that,” Paquette says. “Making playgrounds more accessible and inclusive will support not only our students but their families and our community. Playgrounds are truly a community hub.”
With support from Edmonton Catholic Schools, Paquette set a goal of redeveloping all 43 play-grounds in the district by 2030, and ensure each playground has options for all ages and abilities. “Whether someone comes on crutches, in a wheelchair, with sensory issues, or with a stroller, they will be able to access our playgrounds and feel included in outdoor play.”
Since 2018, 26 playgrounds have been redeveloped, and all outdoor pathways have been made accessible, thanks to Paquette’s leadership and fundraising — she even participates in building the playgrounds. “Every single child in my eyes, regardless of social or economic background, deserves a safe environment to play.”