FUTURE SITE – Todd Nivens

Funding for enhancements at Kerry Wood Nature Centre

Red Deer’s Kerry Wood Nature Centre will be receiving interior and exterior upgrades over the remainder of the summer thanks to grants from the federal government, the Kiwanis Club of Red Deer and the Twilight Homes Foundation.

Earl Dreeshen, member of parliament announced Monday during a press conference on behalf of Candice Bergen, minister of state for social development, that the federal government will be providing Waskasoo Environmental Education Society with a $50,000 grant.

The funding came from the community accessibility part of the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF), which began in 2007 with the 2013 Economic Action Plan designating $15 million per year to go towards ensuring better access to facilities for all Canadians regardless of their ability.

“Accessibility is crucial to ensuring even more Red Deerians and visitors to the City can access these great facilities,” stated Dreeshen.

“Accessibility is something we all too often overlook – whether it be getting into your car, getting around on public transportation or entering a building, these are all things we so often take for granted.”

The $50,000 from the federal government was complimented by a combined $140,000 donation from the Kiwanis Club of Red Deer and the Twilight Homes Foundation of Red Deer.

The $190,000 will go towards the improved accessibility of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre which will include adding automatic doors to the facility, ensuring all areas of the facility are wheelchair accessible and addressing general accessibility issues within the facility.

Also being constructed at the facility in mid-September thanks to the funding will be the Kiwanis Harmony Gardens – an interactive and accessible musical playground/park.

Todd Nivens, program coordinator for Waskasoo Environmental Education Society explained the playground would be built to allow people of all abilities access to the park, while tying into the idea that music is an essential developmental tool for children.

“Music is a fantastic tie between different modes of learning and is a really good place of common meeting for people of all ages and abilities.”

Construction on the Kiwanis Harmony Gardens will begin the third week of September with the opening of the park taking place in early October.

“Our goal is to add to our quality programming by creating a fully accessible music garden and remove barriers within our facility,” said Jim Robertson, executive director for Waskasoo. “Music gardens are outdoor music-based playgrounds that facilitate play-based learning and encourage children of all ages and abilities to use their imaginations while exploring the natural world’s smells, textures, sounds, and processes.”

jswan@reddeerexpress.com