When MHK student Fallon Mitchell volunteered at the Connections Early Years Family Centre and Aboriginal Child Resource Centre, she noticed one shortcoming: it was difficult for children requiring assistance with mobility to gain access to its new outdoor learning space, the “Good Friends Garden.”
Mitchell won a federal grant to fund the installation of a ramp enabling any person using a wheelchair, stroller, or another mobility aid, to enjoy the garden and the activities held there.
“Working on this project has really encouraged me to look at things differently and I’m much more aware of accessibility factors now when I’m walking around in public places,” she says. “It has also given me an opportunity to learn about the research funding process and given me the opportunity to explore new career paths.”
The centre, located on Giles Boulevard, provides support, resources, and individualized services to promote the early learning and healthy development of children up to six years old and their families.
Board members and faculty supervisors Paula van Wyk, Patti Millar, Krista Loughead, and Pat McTaggart guided Mitchell through the process of applying for a grant from the Enabling Accessibility Fund, a federal program aimed at making communities and workplaces more accessible to people with disabilities.
“We’re currently in the middle of a multi-year Building UP! fundraising campaign at Connections, aimed at enhancing the accessibility of our facility and working towards alignment with AODA standards,” Dr. Millar noted. “We encourage our students to build community relationships and have an impact here in Windsor-Essex, and Fallon’s efforts on this project did just that. She pushed this project forward and it’s something that we can all be really proud of.”
Dr. van Wyk is excited about the opportunities presented for students.
“Projects like these open opportunities to our students to apply the knowledge and skills they have been learning in the classroom and through their research, they are positively impacting our communities well beyond their academic pursuits,” she said.