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TIMMINS - Dawna Chorneyâ€™s search for a safe playground for her five-year-old autistic son to play on has come to an end.
The mother of two always had to keep a sharp eye out for a suitable playground for her son Quinton. She explained that playgrounds equipped with ladders for example could pose a safety risk for her son. It wasnâ€™t until Kidd Operations (Glencore) committed $17,500 to fund a new playground for North Eastern Ontario Family and Childrenâ€™s Services that Chorney had a safe place to go to.
Quinton was one of the first children on the new playground, which was officially unveiled at a media conference on Friday. The new equipment features slides, tunnels and a tower for children to play on. Unlike other playgrounds, the one located on Wilcox Street sits on top of a padded area for added safety.
Chorney said she and many other families with autistic children are grateful to have the playground.
â€œIt provides a safe environment for our children to learn and grown in and it is very much appreciated by the parents and the community,â€ she said. â€œWe go to any regular playground and there are openings in the equipment for ladders where the children climb and thatâ€™s not suitable for my children. Unfortunately, they do bolt at times and they do go for things that they donâ€™t understand are dangerous. This playground equipment does provide a very safe environment.â€
Lisa Malette, senior therapist with the autism prevention program, said they picked the playground that would best suit the program and the children using it. The playground allows children how to better communicate what theyâ€™re experiencing while playing as well as improving their motor skills, she said.
â€œOne of the integral pieces is socialization skills,â€ Malette said. â€œBeing able to learn from their peers while watching them and observing them and then picking up from those is something that we see is usually lacking. This allows for more interactive play when they are out here. This is a huge padded area so if someone is running and falls it becomes a much safer place.â€
Kidd Operations has contributed nearly $4 million to community organizations and projects since 2007. The company first announced it would be providing funding for a new playground about a year ago.
Tom Semadeni, general manager of Kidd Operations said they wanted to make sure that they address important community concerns when they look at what projects to provide funding for. Semadeni said heâ€™s glad that Kidd could be a part of the project.
â€œWe supplied the funding but I have to really applaud the leadership and the vision and just the plain hard work that goes into making something like this happen,â€ he said. â€œIt didnâ€™t happen by itself. Itâ€™s really nice to see the fruit of the labour.â€
Kidd helping kids | Timmins Press
Near North Photography