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July 21, 2012
Neshama Playground officially opens in Toronto's Oriole Park
Dignitaries and community members gathered in Toronto's Oriole Park today for the ceremonial opening of a fully inclusive playground for children of all ages.

The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; Councillor Norm Kelly (Ward 40 Scarborough Agincourt), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee; and Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22 St. Paul's) joined project donors and other community members to celebrate the opening of the Neshama Playground.

"I'm thrilled to join in the opening of the Neshama Playground - which helps to define accessibility as that which enables people to achieve their full potential," said Lieutenant Governor Onley. "Play is an important aspect of every child's life, and this playground will ensure that children with disabilities are able to enjoy the fun offered by its many charms."

"It's important for all children to have a good place to play - whether it's for organized sports or for joining playmates and having fun at a neighbourhood park like this one," said Councillor Kelly.

The Neshama Playground features a water play area, sensory musical features, Braille panels, an enclosed climbing merry-go-round and bounce pad, accessible swings and play structures, and colourful, springy surfacing.

The playground was built with the generous support of donors across the city. The project was initially the brainchild of Thomas Caldwell (Caldwell Financial) and Toronto lawyer Steven Skurka, who enlisted Theo and Brendan Caldwell and recruited friends and associates who became known as "A Bunch of Guys." A Bunch of Guys raised over $700,000 to create a state-of-the-art, inclusive playground experience for all children.

"We are deeply grateful for all the volunteers, donors, and staff at the City of Toronto who shared our vision of creating Canada's first playground where children of all abilities can play together," said Brendan Caldwell, spokesman for A Bunch of Guys. "We look forward to our city and other cities using Neshama Playground as a model for how to make playgrounds fun for every child."

Neshama Playground in Oriole Park is the first of its kind in Toronto and is consistent with the City's policy direction for universal accessibility.

"So many residents have shared with me how excited they are to have this wonderful new playground in their neighbourhood," said Ulli Rath, Acting President of the Friends of Oriole Park. "We're all very proud to have been able to play an important role in its creation."

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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