CASE STUDY: BEC PATON

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Rebecca has 2 daughters. The eldest has a rare syndrome that has resulted in physical and intellectual disabilities and needs constant care. She first heard about Touched by Olivia when researching the availability of adult-sized changing tables.  Bec joined the access committee of Ballarat City Council and was pushing for such a toilet facility to be built there.  In her research she discovered there was a playground in Sydney with one.

As she read more about the playground itself, she became excited by the idea of an inclusive playspace. As she read about Touched by Olivia and their goal to build inclusive playspaces all around Australia, she knew they had to get one in Ballarat!

Playgrounds have always been tough as they tend to showcase what children of what their ages should be doing. Watching them play at their local park, her youngest daughter would be all over the equipment. If they were lucky, there might be a wheelchair swing for her eldest somewhere off to the side and separated from the rest of the play space by a fence because it is heavy and dangerous to other kids.

She wanted somewhere that her girls could play together. In March of 2012 she paid a visit to Livvi’s Place at Five Dock. Bec fell in love with the park, took photos and then presented them to the Disability Advisory Committee at Ballarat City Council.

The process of designing and constructing a project of this size and nature was very interesting to Bec, as was the community consultation process, the most interesting thing to see was the creativity and energy of the volunteer community members who came up with all sorts or ways to raise money and awareness for the project.

One of the biggest challenges was getting the word out to the community. There has been marketing around the project but it seems many people are unaware of the project or how hard it is to raise the necessary funds to build the park.

Some of the things that Bec is really proud of are the team of volunteers for the efforts they have put in over the last 2 years. She said that she is also proud of the contributors for showing they support inclusion and proud that the Councillors saw the merit in this project and decided to back it from the start.