Monday 1 June 2015
After almost two years of fundraising and planning, the first sod will be turned next week in the upgrade to the playground at Merimbula’s Ford Park.
The existing play area will be given an exciting facelift and named Livvi’s Place, making it the region’s first playground that is inclusive and accessible for children with disabilities, including those in wheelchairs or with other mobility aids.
Mayor, Michael Britten said the park upgrade aims to reduce physical access barriers in order to create a more inclusive recreational facility for people of all ages, abilities and mobility levels.
“The park will also complement the existing green open spaces and stunning natural environment to provide a meeting place for the community,” he said.
“The upgrade has been a long term project for Bega Valley Shire Council, following consultation in 2012 that highlighted the need for more inclusive facilities in the Shire.
"Livvi's Place is the result of a unique partnership between national charity, Touched by Olivia, the Rotary Club of Merimbula and Bega Valley Shire Council.
“The Foundation helped to inform park design and assisted Council with raising funds to build the park.
“This is a good demonstration of results coming from collaboration. It’s a project made possible through a Council contribution of about $200,000 towards the cost of building the park, and the Touched by Olivia Foundation raising about $100,000 through working with corporate sponsors and local groups.
“A number of local community groups and organisations have been key supporters of the playground from the start, and in particular I thank the Rotary Club of Merimbula for their hard work on the project.
“The tender for supply and installation of play equipment is underway and construction drawings and documents for landscape works are being finalised and those works will be put out for tender in the coming weeks,” Cr Britten said.
Rotary Club of Merimbula President John Ferguson was enthused by the progress.
“Several years ago, the Rotary Club of Merimbula identified a need for an improved and modern children’s playground in the beachside Ford Park. For some time, the Club had been directing efforts into park beautification and amenities improvement but something more was obviously needed,” Mr Ferguson said.
Touched by Olivia’s Executive Officer, Bec Ho, said she is enthusiastic about the ground breaking ceremony.
“Playing together is how kids learn to be accepting of others. We are building public spaces that invite kids with differences to play side-by-side with all of their community.
“It is our obligation as a society to make inclusion a priority. Inclusive playspaces will create a change in the way people with differences are perceived.
“Construction on the upgrade to Ford Park Playground is scheduled to commence in August/ September, with a ground breaking ceremony to be held onsite on Monday 1 June at 12.30pm,” she said.
Supporters and sponsors will be in attendance including Councillor Sharon Tapscott, Councillor Kristy McBain and Member for Bega, Andrew Constance.
About Touched by Olivia Foundation:
“Creating the Foundation is our way of finding a positive meaning arising from the immeasurable pain of losing our little girl, Olivia, at only eight months old to a rare disease called Lymphangioma. It is our way of bringing Olivia’s touch to others by creating a positive change in the future of other children.” John and Justine Perkins- Founders.
“Our dream of healthier and happier lives for our kids is being realised through two key initiatives; one being the creation of inclusive playspaces, enabling children, regardless of ability, to play side by side.”
Touched by Olivia have 50 sites planned across Australia, 6 of which are already completed and another 32 in various stages of development. It is thought that the creation of inclusive playspaces is encouraging a generational change in the way children, and more importantly, their parents treat those with disabilities.
Their unique strategy of partnership between government, corporate and community to build social assets has been recognised by the World Leisure Organisation with the 2011 International Innovation Award and NSW Premiers Best Public Space Award amongst other honours received in the five years since the Foundation began.
For further information about the Touched by Olivia Foundation, please contact:
Touched by Olivia Foundation Executive Officer
0414 506 606