Day 2 of the Paralympic Games
My paralympic experienced kicked off yesterday at Robson Square, fitting, as that was home base during the Olympic games.
Lauren Byrne and I watched the opening press conference there, complete with John Furlong (CEO of VANOC), Ken Melamed (Mayor of Whistler), Sir Philip Craven (President of the Internation Paralympic Committee), Mary McNeil (Minister of State for the Olympics), James Moore (Heritage Minister) and Tim Stevenson (Vancouver City Councillor). Each expressed their excitement at the upcoming games, and the locals offered welcomes, while the visitors exclaimed over the beauty of the host cities.
We had the chance to speak with Ken Melamed after. He described how proud he is of Whistler's accessability, and described the steps they have already to make it so. These included re-evaluating their environment and working to install ramps rather than stairs and remove barriers of any kind.
That being said, "We still have lots of work to do." admitted Mr. Melamed. He continued by describing his goal of making Whistler the most accessible resort in Canada, and, "maybe even North America."
Lastly, he spoke about a special project very close to his heart, Whistler's Accessible Playground, which was just recently completed. The goal of the project is to allow able-bodied and disabled children to play and bond side by side, and eliminate the physical barriers that may prevent potential friendships between them. It features ramps, a Sway Fun Glider accessible even to wheelchair users, and a sensory wall for the visually impaired.
Speaking with Ken Melamed