A West Kelowna mom and her supporters are closing in on their fundraising goal to build the first all-inclusive playground in the city.
Melissa Grassmick told council at its Nov. 22 meeting that just over $500,000 of their $750,000 goal has been raised for Julia’s Junction. The playground is named after Grassmick’s daughter, who suffered a spinal cord injury caused by a blood clot at 17 months old.
Grassmick said months of fundraising events have contributed to the total, and Julia has been an inspiration.
“I think she’s really proud to be part of it,” said Grassmick.
The City of West Kelowna has contributed $200,000 to the project and has provided support and advice from city staff.
“I felt completely supported, valued, and included in all the details,” said Grassmick.
She added that corporate donors, charity contributions, grant funding, and personal donations have also bolstered fundraising. Julia’s Junction will provide an all-inclusive and accessible playground for children of all abilities, as well as opportunities for socialization and a quiet space.
“To give every child a chance to play together,” added Grassmick.
Coun. Garrett Millsap said there is a lot the city can learn from Grassmick’s efforts.
“When we go to retrofit or build a playground we need to think about accessibility first.”
Coun. Carol Zanon thanked Grassmick for a lesson in awareness.
“From now on this is a lesson that I will carry with me all the time in any of the future projects that we’ll be doing,” she added.
Construction on Julia’s Junction, which is planned for Westbank Town Centre Park, is expected to start April 1, 2023, with a grand opening near the end of June.
Grassmick said the fundraising continues.
“We’re feeling pretty confident that we’ll hit our goal.”