New accessible park swings make a difference for Aylmer family
Earlier this year in April, Lucerne Councillor, Gilles Chagnon, used his discretionary budget to have an accessible swing installed at two local parks. Now families and caregivers are able to take their children and adults to the park in a swing that suits their needs. There are now swings installed at three parks in the district, Alain-Labonté, Donald-Dupel and Coquelicot park.
The councillor first heard of the need for accessible swings during his door-to-door campaign in the previous municipal election. Mary Jean Holbrook-Marks, one of the parents who spoke to Chagnon during his campaign says that her son Bryan has been able to enjoy the swings many times since they’ve been installed.
“There are very few activities that are specialized for children like Bryan. Being able to have a destination on our walks where we can stop and Bryan can enjoy swinging is wonderful,” said Holbrook-Marks. She explains that there were some parks that had these swings, but they were very big and usually got quite busy. “For some kids, like Bryan, these parks can be overwhelming as there is lots of noise and a lot of people. Having these swings in local, smaller parks near home that don’t get as busy makes it much easier for us to use them.”
Despite these swings being a much-needed addition, Holbrook-Marks says there is still a great need for more services for families like hers. According to the mom of three, the only organization that offers specialized services for her son is Trait d’Union Outaouais, a non-profit organization that offers services for autistic people and their families. She notes that since covid, despite their best efforts, the services offered have decreased drastically.
“It’s not the organization's fault, there is a labor shortage and autistic children and adults require specialized care,” said Holbrook-Marks. “It’s Gatineau that needs to have more services for children that are on the spectrum that have greater care needs, there are very few programs available to us at the city level.”
Readers open to sharing their experience with services for people with disabilities in the Outaouais are welcome to email Journaliste@bulletinaylmer.com
Photo Caption: Mary Jean Holbrook-Mark's son Bryan enjoying the accessible swing at Coquelicot park.
Photo Credit: Bryan’s parents Mary Jean Holbrook-Mark and Sean Marks