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The City of Cape Town has added an obstacle course to the Thibault Play Park – a wheelchair-friendly play park in Ward 102, Brackenfell. This course will act as a training facility for people in wheelchairs, allowing them to improve their skills in navigating the city environment. Read more below:

Officially opened in 2014, the City’s Thibault Play Park in Brackenfell uses an inclusive approach to allow children with disabilities to play alongside other children.

The local ward councillor, Carin Brynard, provided budget from her ward allocation for the first phase of this park and the creative mind behind the play park was Willem Myburgh of the City Parks Department. Willem worked in collaboration with the Paarl School and other individuals to design and make this park a reality. The Paarl School for neurally handicapped children is adjacent to the park, and the children make use of the park daily during their breaks.The latest upgrade started in October 2015 and included expanding the hardened park surface with water-wise artificial turf and constructing a 160 m long wheelchair obstacle course.

Additional wheelchair-friendly play park equipment was installed as part of this current upgrade, including a see-saw. Ward allocation funding to the tune of R50 000 and R100 000 worth of departmental funding made this possible. The upgrades were completed earlier this year.

‘The park boasts a state-of-the-art, open-air training facility for people in wheelchairs where they can improve their skills on the obstacle course. The course simulates the obstacles that people in wheelchairs need to negotiate on a daily basis. These obstacles include getting on and off a sidewalk, navigating ramps and speed humps, and travelling over difficult surfaces like sand and gravel. This course will improve their confidence and ability to move around the city in their everyday life. The park also has a picket fence, indigenous trees and a fragrance garden with scented plants,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services, Councillor Anda Ntsodo.

The residents of Thibault Street have taken pride in the play park and are involved with maintenance tasks and locking the park after dark.

According to Councillor Brynard, residents are very proud of this facility as it plays an important role in integrating people with special challenges into the community.

The City of Cape Town has partnered with the Paarl School to provide physiotherapy services to park users. The physiotherapist, Reinet Barnard, and facilitator, Mark Lewis (both from the Paarl School), assist people in wheelchairs who want to make use of the facility. If other schools or institutions are interested in making use of this training facility, they are encouraged to make contact with the Paarl School.

‘The upgrade of the park showcases the City’s commitment to developing spaces where the disabled can play and exercise in a safe environment. These upgrades will ensure that this play park is an example for the development of future inclusive spaces around Cape Town. I would like to thank Willem Myburgh, the Paarl School and those involved in the design of this park for their creativity and perseverance in making this park a reality,’ said Councillor Ntsodo.

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