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Autism, the Sault, and a sensory playground (5 photos)

Autism advocates will be filling city hall on Monday and a new sensory playground is opening up in Bellevue park the day after that
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City Hall may be full of autism advocates on Monday as the Algoma Autism Foundation (AAF) calls on people to come to the next council meeting and show support.

The AAF is making a presentation on Autism and requesting city council pass a number of resolutions (which will be drafted by Monday) with the goal of solidifying bonds between the city so that the two can move forward helping out those with autism in Sault Ste. Marie.

AAF Director Jamie Boston said the their presence on Monday is “amiable” and they are looking for anyone who wants to be an advocate or show some friendly support to come out.

The presentation will be called Partnering to meet the needs of constituents with autism.

“I don’t know how many people we can fit in city council but I hope we make it so there is standing room only,” said Boston

The AAF wants to partner more closely with the city in an ongoing effort to make municipal facilities and services more equitable to those with autism as well as partner to seek federal and provincial funding to accomplish those goals.

The AAF and the city are already working together.

They are currently engaged in a pilot project at the city-owned John Rhodes Centre Pool to create a once-a-week two hour-long ‘Sensitive Swim’, essentially a quieter hour for not just those with autism but anyone who finds loud noises and rushing water overwhelming.

The city also donated the property and all the labor for the construction of the new Adventure Playground and Interactive Sensory Play Area, or “sensory playground”, in Bellevue Park that will be officially opened the day after Monday’s council meeting.

Boston said going forward he hopes to see more initiatives like these between the city and AAF.

Boston is asking people who want to come out on Monday July 18 to show up no later than 4:15 for the 4:30 meeting and that they expect to be presenting near the beginning of the meeting.

No matter what happens on Monday, the AAF and the city will definitely be together on Tuesday for the grand opening of the sensory playground.

The new play area will have increased accessibility and be more geared towards sensory stimulation.

It will include outdoor musical instruments like a drum, ‘metallophone’, and chimes, designs and shapes designed to enhance tactile sensations, a ‘cozy dome’ cave that lets over-stimulated children have a quieter playing space, and several other “of the newest” climbing and spinning devices.

Boston said the construction of the playground ran into difficulties halfway through when city workers were confronted with large boulders that had to be removed with heavy equipment but through tireless effort things got back on track.

“I’ve personally seen the city workers and summer students working their butts off down there to get this done on time. I actually know guys that changed vacations and worked weekends just to go above and beyond to get this done. City workers often get a bad rap but these ones need to be recognized for going all out,” said Boston.

This project was created and funded through a partnership with AAF, the city, the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, Community Living Algoma, and Employment and Social Development Canada.

The grand opening of the sensory playground will be Tuesday from 5-7 p.m.




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