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Appealing to kids’ senses

Artists invited to submit concept proposals for sensory wall at playground

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Whistler kids are going to have their hands full once the community's new inclusive playground at the Medals Plaza is completed.

There's quite a bit planned for this new inclusive playground, which is approximately four times the size of the former play structure that was in place at the same site.

And while the whole structure won't be complete until well after the Olympics, municipal officials are hoping that at least one phase, which includes a special sensory wall feature, will be finished early next year.

Kevin McFarland, parks planner for the RMOW, explained that organizers have been working with 2010 Legacies Now and a group out of Los Angeles that specializes in inclusive play, a group called Shane's Inspiration.

"Part of the work that they have done, in the past, is playgrounds... that have actually included a component called a sensory wall and in those cases, there was actually a company that had developed them," he said.

The wall will feature a wide range of interactive opportunities designed for children of all levels of ability.

"There are things to touch, things to twist and turn, and things that make noise or musical notes, and it's also got a very interesting visual," McFarland said. "...Part of the whole idea of the playground is that all children can find something of interest there, not only for themselves to play with there, but also for children to play together."

It might even include electronic aspects, like speakers and "talk tubes."

Aside from the various interactive aspects, the wall also must have an aesthetic to match Whistler and its natural surroundings. They're calling for a "personalized" piece that will reflect the community, possibly using organic forms and natural materials.

The maximum budget for the artistic component of the sensory wall is $30,000. That amount will come from the overall budget for the inclusive playground, which should be announced in the coming weeks. Much of that funding is expected to come from private donors.

They hope to have the first phase of the playground, which includes the sensory wall, completed by February, in time for the Games.

Artists from the Sea to Sky region are encouraged to submit design and concept proposals for the sensory wall by Aug. 12. McFarland said they hope to have an artist selected by Aug. 24, so they can begin work as early as September.

For more information contact kmcfarland@whistler.ca .

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