Kate’s Place for Everyone
We are fortunate to work with many clients who truly understand the importance of inclusive play spaces. Recently we sat down with Kelly Meissner, the founder of Kate’s Kause, to learn more about her amazing project and her daughter who inspired it all.
ABC: Tell us about Kate and what sparked your passion for inclusive play spaces.
KM: Kate is a remarkable 11 year old girl who lives with Angelman syndrome. It is a significant diagnosis, with motor and developmental delays, seizures, feeding issues, and sleep issues. Despite the barriers placed on her by her diagnosis, Kate is a strong, independent and healthy kid who loves her life. All I could think about when we received Kate’s diagnosis was that I just wanted her to be able to be a kid. I wanted her to grow up in her community surrounded by her family, friends and peers. I wanted her to be in the centre of play and not on the outside. I wanted to create a space for her to be herself and be accepted. I wanted to help her develop a positive self image and grow into a confident young woman. I wanted all of the things anyone would want for their child when they are growing up.
ABC: What were the first steps you took to start your journey to building your inclusive playground?
KM: The first thing I did was to approach the Township of Woolwich to see if they were supportive of an inclusive and accessible playground. Once they agreed to donate the land and take over the maintenance of the playground when it was finished, we could move forward. I worked on fundraising, obtaining quotes on playgrounds, learned what inclusive and accessible playgrounds truly meant, and leveraged community support.
ABC: Why do you think more communities should invest in inclusive playgrounds?
KM: Inclusive and accessible playgrounds address a lot of the equity issues surrounding community recreation. I think it’s important to make sure everyone is included. So much recreational programming provided by municipalities is directed toward the neurotypical population. There are few supports in place to include kids who live with significant disabilities in programming. One of the easiest ways to include everyone is through play. It’s such a natural and uplifting experience that is good for the entire family!
ABC: How did you market your cause and gain traction within your community?
KM: We relied heavily on our website and Facebook in the beginning. Our local media were also very supportive of our cause and helped us with multiple cover stories to increase awareness.
ABC: What were some of your fundraising ideas that helped raise money to build the playground?
KM: We had great success with silent auctions, benefits (which are similar to a stag and doe) and golf tournaments. We also were lucky to come on the scene at the same time as online voting competitions like The Aviva Community Fund.
ABC: What has been the feedback within your community since the playground was built?
KM: The feedback from the community has been nothing short of amazing. Many have commented on how the playground has rejuvenated the park and inspired a community to unite together. Kate has become a bit of a community rock star – it has been great for her confidence and self image. The community knows her well and continues to be very supportive. We have done multiple additions and upgrades over time and the community rallies behind us every single time in order to keep our favourite playground exciting, engaging and in great shape for years to come!
Learn more about Kate and her inclusive play space: