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Accessible playground officially opens at Oriole Park

Toronto now has a fully accessible playground for children of all levels of physical and mental abilities, right in the heart of Forest Hill.

The $1.3-million Neshama Playground in Oriole Park, just northwest of Upper Canada College, near the junction of Yonge and Chaplin Crescent, opened this week.

"The project was initially the brainchild of Thomas Caldwell [of 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,'" says Rob Richardson of the city's parks department. "A Bunch of Guys raised over $700,000 to create a state-of-the-art, inclusive playground experience for all children. The site was chosen for its central location, access to public transit and proximity to numerous organizations who cater to persons of various abilities."

According to an interview Caldwell gave to Metro Morning this week, the playground came about when Caldwell found himself seated next to Skurka on a flight eight years ago, after Skurka had read a magazine article about accessibility and playgrounds. They went to see then-mayor David Miller, who got his parks department on it.

The playground was designed by Beverly Ambler of PMA Landscape Architects. Work began in 2010 and the majority of it was completed last year, with finishing being added into this past spring.

Neshama is the Hebrew word for "spirit" or "soul."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rob Richardson, Manager of Partnership Development, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department

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