Universal Play Park in Liverpool, Nova Scotia: A Beacon of Inclusion and Accessibility

South Shore Nova Scotia has had a recent triumph for inclusivity and joy. Etli Milita’mk – a Universal Play Park in Liverpool – is heralding a new era for inclusive play. 

It is a testament to the relentless efforts of Debbie Wamboldt, a local hero with a personal stake in accessibility.

Eight years ago, during a municipal election, Wamboldt penned a letter highlighting the lack of safe, accessible playgrounds in Liverpool. She was keenly aware of the challenges this posed for her autistic son – and for herself, as someone with mobility issues.

“There were many questions regarding the need and the cost from both council and the public,” she recalls. But as Debbie witnessed the isolation effects of the pandemic, her confidence in the necessity of the park solidified.

The park, a $600,000 project, was not without its challenges. But the obstacles were overcome through education, advocacy – and a lot of fundraising. The park opened to the public last fall. 

Since then, it has received overwhelmingly positive feedback for its inclusive design. “I’m hearing emotional parents tell me how they have for the first time been able to enjoy a trip to the park,” Wamboldt shared. 

To those who dream of replicating such a success in their own towns, Debbie offers this advice: “If you know in your heart that it is the right thing to do, give it a voice, and you’ll find other people who feel the same. Work together and don’t give up.” 

The park is not only a personal achievement for Wamboldt but also a source of pride for her sons, who have been the inspiration behind this venture. “They say they are proud to be the inspiration. They are happy we have the play park,” she shared, echoing her son Angus’s invitation, “I think everyone should come and see the Play Park.”

Etli Milita’mk serves as a pioneering model for other communities, demonstrating the profound impact of inclusive spaces on the well-being of everyone. It proves that with determination and community support, accessibility can become a universal standard.

Translated from Mi’kmaq the park name means “we are playing here”.


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