By Pamela Rosenberg, Soloway Jewish Community Centre
Thanks to a generous $127,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the collaboration of many campus partners, a new accessible play area is in the works for the area behind the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) that will give all children on the Jewish Community Campus the opportunity to play and be active.
The Jewish Federation of Ottawa, Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC), OJCS, the Jewish Ottawa Inclusion Network (JOIN), Tamir – Keshet for Kids, and Thinking in Pictures Educational Services (TIPES), are working together to plan a play structure suited for children aged from two to 12 of all exceptionalities.
The project was kick-started last year when OJCS parent Oren Petel brought the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant opportunity to the attention of the SJCC, Federation and OJCS. The conversation quickly turned to inclusion, and the need to build a playground for children of all exceptionalities in our schools, camps, and community.
“Inviting partners such as TIPES, JOIN, and Tamir to the table along with the SJCC, OJCS, and Ganon allowed us to ensure that the new playground would be modern, accessible and inclusive, allowing more children to be more active,” said Leslie Kaufman, Federation vice-president of corporate services. “As we meet with playground vendors to design the new structure, the overriding criteria for all decisions is “will all children have fun?”
While the final design for the playground has not been finalized, the plan is to build a new structure next to the existing one. In addition to slides and climbing objects, the new structure will have freestanding ground level activities, sensory stations and quiet spaces.
Representatives from all the partner organizations have been meeting regularly to ensure the final result meets the needs of all children on campus. Construction is slated to begin in the spring with the playground open for fun in June.
“With its community partners, Federation is dedicated to building a Jewish Superhighway of meaningful experiences and Jewish journeys; where Jewish life is vibrant and no one is left behind,” said Kaufman. “This playground is a shining example of a meaningful, vibrant and inclusive project that will inspire more people to come to our campus to enjoy healthy and fun activities. Opportunities for community programming will be enhanced, and we can be a destination for enriched outdoor play. This project is a win for our campus partners and our community!”
This will mark the third playground remodeling project on the Jewish Community Campus. The Early Beginnings Multicultural Child Development Centre and Ganon Preschool shared playgrounds both had facelifts in 2019, with new structures and a softer, cleaner, ground surface.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $108 million to 629 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities across Ontario.
Photo: A group of Ottawa Jewish Community School students enjoy the playground behind the school on the Ottawa Jewish Community Campus. A new accessible playground for children of all exceptionalities will be built beside it.