This April, the CVCDA got under way with our outdoor play space renovation. The intention for these upgrades and additions is to create a natural sensory environment for play AND therapy. Currently, the space is used mainly by our team at The Autism Program (TAP) as it is located directly off of our Comox Valley Autism Centre. Our Early Intervention Therapy (EIT) programs including Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Pathology are located next door are very much looking forward to the opportunity to expand their therapy sessions outdoors. The improved outdoor space complete with specialty play equipment, obstacles and sensory features will now provide a more naturalistic, ‘fun’ environment to motivate their children through challenging tasks.
So far, through the first phase of construction, the play space has seen some excavating to regrade some of the more unfriendly slopes, add a retaining wall and make the space just that much more accessible. There has also been the addition of newly built and repurposed outdoor storage, and play structures including some sand play still to come. This phase will be topped off with some fresh landscaping including lush new sod, wood chips for under climbing structures and slide, shrubs and a tree planted to provide some much needed shade to the space.
The future phase will add some of the more nuanced therapy ‘equipment/tools’ such as sensory play panels, a water feature, raised garden beds, a bridge/tunnel and many more fun extras including wheelie toys and loose parts.
We have been so fortunate to have the support of the community in bringing this redevelopment project to life. Long-time partners through the play space upgrades has been local Comox Valley McDonald’s Restaurants and their annual McHappy Day fundraiser. Local owners, Jess & Stuart Aldred made a generous financial contribution early on in the conception phase of the project to see us through to completion.
Since those early days, the project has evolved and grown in scope. We now also have the support of Courtenay Rotary. Not only have the Rotarians contributed financially but also through their collaborative support leading the project and volunteering a large number of the labour hours needed to complete the play space.
As a representative of the Courtenay Rotary, Chris Swift is the Project Leader. He has been overseeing the site and working with the countless Rotary volunteers including a friendly CVCDA neighbor or two. Peter Ashmore has also been an invaluable resource providing consulting services from the early stages of planning even leading our staff and committee through focus groups. He has continually been involved at every stage right down to assisting the CVCDA with sourcing and/or building the right equipment to complete the space.
The CVCDA is also once again working with our construction partner, Lacasse Construction. Owner, Cale Lacasse along with his team has consulted on the project where ever needed. Other local businesses have also been great contributors of materials, equipment, supplies and labour including Hyland Precast and Pilon Tool Rentals.