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New playground to enhance children’s therapy at Belleville General Hospital

BGH Playground

The therapeutic playground is expected to be completed by the third week of October. Photo by Megan Pounder, QNet News

By Megan Pounder [1]

BELLEVILLE – The Children’s Treatment Centre [2] at Belleville General Hospital [3] is about to get an upgrade.

A new therapeutic playground is being built just outside of the centre in the Charlotte Sills Wing of the hospital. The playground will help in the treatment of over 500 children.

However, treatment wasn’t the only thing in mind during this project.

“The nice thing about it is that it’s a very natural environment for kids, to play in a playground,” said the centre’s manager, Margo Russell-Brand. “And so what we did was kind of look at, ‘OK, what can we have in a playground that will help kids have fun but at the same time help them develop skills?’ ”

The new facility allows the kids to have fun while they’re doing therapy, she said.

“All those kids with all of those disabilities have the desire to play and desire to have fun and desire to help develop their skills.”

BGH Foundation director of development Jenn Barrett says the new playground is important because public playgrounds aren’t fully accessible for disabled children.

The new playground will be the only one that some children at the treatment centre will ever be able to use, she said.

“For these children, it’s everything to them.”

The playground design includes real-world physical experiences such as inclines, declines and different ground surfaces to help children learn to navigate with their mobility devices.

Therapists at the hospital have had input into the playground every step of the way, from the very first planning stages, Barrett said, adding: “This is a key element; I’ve never seen it from that magnitude.”

The project comes with a $300,000 price tag. Most of the money has already been raised, but $74,000 still remains.

Help Them Play [4], a campaign dedicated to raising the remainder, is spearheaded by BGH Foundation volunteers Kristen Whalen and Cassandra Bonn. Both have first-hand experience with the treatment centre.

Whalen’s daughter, Aurora, has been using the centre for almost five years.

“It’s a great place, and it’s one of those places honestly I didn’t know it existed here in Belleville until we needed it,” Kristen Whalen said.

She and Bonn are looking for donations from local businesses and individuals.

“The money that’s contributed to this campaign is helping kids right here,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to be able to keep the funds here and just see the benefits within the kids in our community.”

Donations can be made at bghf.ca/playground [4] or by contacting Barrett at 613-969-7400, ext. 2403. Donations of $1,000 or more will be recognized on a donor wall within the playground.