The River Valley Community Centre in Grand Bay is a beehive of activity for children and adults alike. And now it’s destined to be more accessible than ever for people with a disability and mobility issues.
Work is under way to address recommended improvements Ability New Brunswick identified in a recent review designed to make recreational facilities more accessible for all.
“It was awesome to have Ability New Brunswick come in here and prepare a whole report for us on the things that needed to be changed,” says Kelly Goddard, general manager of the centre.
“They give you the specifics – how many inches from this and that, how to make it easier for people with disabilities to enjoy the centre,” Kelly says.
Abi Watters, a nine-year-old with cerebral palsy, watches with excitement a hockey practice at the centre. Her mother, JoAnn Watters, applauds the accessibility upgrades.
“Abi’s body may work differently, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t desire to do the things that every kid her age does. She wants to play hockey, she wants to play basketball and soccer. She wants to be involved in community activities,” JoAnn says.
“There is so much power in being able to create spaces in which these things can happen so that it makes it easier. If you have a mobility issue, the world creates so many challenges already for you. I feel like, within our community, it is so important to take some of those challenges and barriers away to make things accessible and inclusive for all people.”
Ability New Brunswick, through Para New Brunswick, provides free accessibility reviews of sport and recreation facilities, parks, playgrounds, trails, beaches, schools, churches, and more to promote a truly inclusive environment for those with a mobility disability.
The reviews incorporate the most recent standards and meet or exceed all New Brunswick codes and regulations. A detailed report with all findings and regulations, and possible funding sources to help fund any renovations or adaptations needed, is provided upon completion of a review.
Kelly says the two washrooms off the centre’s main lobby are being updated to provide wheelchair access to sinks; a portable ramp now is in use in the arena to make it easier to get on and off the floor area and an electric door button has been added to the entryway.
“It was so easy to have Ability New Brunswick come into our facility and point out all that stuff,” he says. “Now we have a detailed report we can work with, ticking off the improvements as we go along.”
Ability New Brunswick and its comprehensive report helped the centre secure $10,000 from the province to pay for the accessibility improvements, Kelly notes.
“It was an excellent experience,” Kelly says.“I appreciate everything Ability New Brunswick did to help us out and make our facility more accessible. More people should take advantage of what Ability New Brunswick has to offer.”