Honours for advocate’s Vic Park play space passion

MILESTONE: Ballarat councillor Des Hudson and inclusive play space advocate Rebecca Paton get construction underway in 2016, about four years after Ms Paton first lobbied for the space. Picture: Lachlan Bence

MILESTONE: Ballarat councillor Des Hudson and inclusive play space advocate Rebecca Paton get construction underway in 2016, about four years after Ms Paton first lobbied for the space. Picture: Lachlan Bence

DISABILITY advocate Rebecca Paton has received state recognition for her passion and drive in creating an all-abilities playground in Ballarat.

For me, it's nice to be honoured, but when I drive past that playground I get a warm and fuzzy feeling. I love seeing kids playing there. - Rebecca Paton

Victoria Park inclusive play space opened in March last year and continues to evolve and involve new community groups, like McCallum Disability Services now overseeing a seasonal garden.

Ms Paton was highly commended for excellence in creating inclusive communities in an awards ceremony in Melbourne this week.

She was humbled to be nominated among such passionate and proactive people and groups in the Victorian Disability Awards.

“For me, it's nice to be honoured, but when I drive past that playground I get a warm and fuzzy feeling. I love seeing kids playing there,” Ms Paton said.

“My girls love it and that’s what I wanted, somewhere for my girls to play.”

Ms Paton was honoured as a voluntary driving force in every aspect of play space, from design input to promotion and presentations with stakeholders.

She also tirelessly presented at Rotary Clubs and market stalls to create widespread awareness of how isolating disability could be for a child.

It was in a family trip to Sydney five years ago that Ms Paton found an inclusive play space that allowed her daughters, one who is disabled, to play together. 

The inclusive play space has become a popular and loved place in Ballarat.

A community plastics company was quick to jump on board to donate acrylic to City of Ballarat earlier this week for repairs on seemingly vandalised panelling. A shocked parent discovered shards had been left strewn across the play space when she arrived with her family on Sunday morning.

General Plastics Ballarat owner Dale Alexander said it was an easy way to help out an importance community space.

Victorian Disability Awards had a renewed focus on inclusion this year, encouraging ways to break down barriers for people with disability, in partnership with business and the community.

Disability Minister Martin Foley was impressed with the outstanding work so many had made to empower people living with a disability.