Waitaki Herald : August 20th 2014
Wednesday August 20, 2014 HERALD WAITAKI By NICOLA WOLFE n Oamaru woman is on a mission to make playgrounds safer for fam- ilies. Mother of three, Yvonne Ball, would like to see one of the local publicly accessible playgrounds fenced. Ball, who has a 10-year old special needs daughter, believes fencing would provide peace of mind to parents and caregivers of preschoolers, and children with special needs. ‘‘I come from Auckland; up there I could take my children to places that were safe and challenging. ‘‘They had facilities suitable for special needs children that let my daughter enjoy her surroundings as like any other kid. ‘‘Coming down here there’s nothing.’’ She approached the Waitaki District Council who suggested she use the playground at Pembroke School or a similar one at Palmerston. According to recreation man- ager Erik van der Spek the council has arranged for the grounds at Pembroke, Oamaru Intermediate and Fenwick Schools to be maintained in exchange for the playgrounds being open for public access. He was, however, unsure how well-known this was to the public. Ball and her daughter are already regular visitors at a park in Mosgiel suitable for children with special needs. However, she would like to see something set up here for all Oamaru families to enjoy. ‘‘It’s not just about providing a place for children with special needs but also somewhere preschoolers can play safely, for single-parents and parents who have more than one young child to supervise and grandparents who are unable to chase a child if they run off,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s about peace of mind for the parents. The children can explore and play as children while the parent can either relax or spend time with one child while the other is playing on another piece of equipment. ‘‘We have great parks, but why can’t they be safe for all families?’’ It would also allow caregivers and parents greater control when picnicking, she suggested. Van der Spek says he is not sure whether fencing a park was something the council felt the town needed but the council is open to the discussion if it was something the community saw as beneficial. Ball feels it is a discussion the community needs to have and has set up a Facebook page, Oamaru Play Safe, where parents and caregivers can share their thoughts and opinions and recommend which park they would like to see fenced. ‘‘It’s about what the community needs. I want everyone to be able to have their say,’’ she says. There is also the option of fundraising. ‘‘The more we can help our- selves, the better outcome there will likely be,’’ Ball says. BURSTING WITH COLOUR Page 8 Mother wants safer parks A Safe play: Mother of three Yvonne Ball would like to see one of Oamaru’s parks fenced so special needs children like daughter Taylor, 10, left, can play safely. Photo: SUPPLIED Discussions have already begun via the Facebook page with mixed feelings from many. Some felt a fenced playground would give parents an excuse to leave their kids unsupervised, while others felt a fence would restrict children’s freedom to play. There were also comments from parents and grandparents in support, including parents of children with disabilities.
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