In 2015, Scott Bradford, Executive Director at that time, of the Nanaimo Child Development Centre - started spearheading the concept of a socially inclusive park and doing preliminary research.
Scott brought together a number of individuals and organizations who were passionate about ensuring people of all ages and abilities can gather and play freely together. The group called itself the Socially Inclusive Park Partnership (SIPP). Partners included the City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Child Development Centre, Nanaimo Association for Community Living, Rotary Clubs of Nanaimo & Lantzville, and Pacificsport.
The SIPP group envisioned the play space at Maffeo Sutton Park as a destination place for families, children, visitors and residents that embraces people of all ages and abilities. As they indicated at the time this vision connects three of the City of Nanaimo’s strategic pillars: economic health, social equity, and cultural vitality. The vision was a gathering place for children and adults to play and engage with their natural surroundings in a safe, inclusive space that was accessible to all.
Other benefits they identified was that this project will benefit the entire community, well beyond the children. Mobility challenged adults will be able to swing and engage in active play with their children. Grandparents can feel confident with stable ground surfaces and adults with developmental delays can play as well. Inclusion drives engagement, connects people and builds community.
The Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island became part of this project in 2018. In 2018 NCDC was successful in accessing a grant from the Children's Health Foundation for $100,000 for this project.