Caring Community Partner Award: Michel Mallet
Our Caring Community Partner Award is awarded annually to a person or organization that has made a significant contribution to our organization such as a commitment to service, in-kind or volunteer support, or a government program or policy development that has positively impacted persons with a mobility disability. The recipient of our 2021-2022 award is Michel Mallet.
When Hurricane Dorian made its way through Parlee Beach in September 2019, it left very little to be recognized in terms of being one of New Brunswick’s top tourism destinations. The tides had taken sand away and all that remained was bedrock several feet below the access ramps.
It did not take long for Michel Mallet, Park Manager of Parlee Beach Provincial Park, to see an opportunity to give a facelift to the park, improve accessibility, and make residents of Pointe-du- Chêne proud of their landmark tourism destination once again. He reached out to our Para NB program in November 2019 and the vision to rebuild the park and celebrate inclusion had taken its first steps. The vision included adding a new comfort station, improving access to the water for all abilities, building a new accessible playground and celebrating accessibility with our peers of all abilities within a two-year time frame.
Despite having the pandemic hit us full force a few months later, Parlee Beach and Para NB worked in partnership by administering accessibility reviews throughout the park, consulting on the design of the comfort station and playground, and consulting on the equipment available at the park such as the MOBI Mat.
This past June, we all got to celebrate this hard work by attending the ribbon cutting event at Parlee Beach. Persons of all abilities were present to tour the new facilities, access the beach, and celebrated with a lunch. This was not the end of the story but the beginning of a chapter more accessible to all. Since then, we have been receiving phone calls from service participants with tears of joy. One specific individual retold her story on how this project allowed her to access the water for the first time in decades. This partnership, sparked by the determination of Michel, also opened the doors to other provincial parks as they took note and have started this very process with our Para NB program and accessibility review service. Here’s to removing barriers and making New Brunswick a top touristic destination in Canada.