Federal science, sports and persons with disabilities minister Kirsty Duncan visits with Jacquelyn Perry and support worker Melinda Edgson as Feral Boardsports owners Darren and Tonia Marshall and South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg look on. Alex Browne photo

Federal minister honours Semiahmoo youth in accessibility initiative

Kirsty Duncan visits White Rock and South Surrey to launch Canada-wide program

Kirsty Duncan, federal science, sports and persons with disabilities minister was in White Rock and South Surrey Thursday afternoon to promote accessibility initiatives for youth and adults with disabilities.

At Bayview Park on White Rock’s waterfront, Duncan visited with community youth leaders who had received funds through the Enabling Accessibility Fund for projects to address accessibility barriers in their community.

Under a youth innovation pilot project, three Peninsula young people with disabilities – all members of Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo – partnered with organizations and a local business to provide increased accessibility opportunities for all disabled people.

Jacquelyn Perry worked with Darren and Tonia Marshall of Feral Boardsports to get funding for modified paddle boards with back rests and kayak paddles, an initiative that received $716 from the federal fund.

Alex Magnussen worked with Peace Arch Hospital and Community Foundation (represented at the presentation by president Stephanie Beck) to secure $10,000 in funding for the All Abilities All Ages Playground project (in which it is partnered with the City of White Rock).

And Sierra Dean partnered with Semiahmoo House Society (represented by executive director Doug Tennant) to get funding for the Beach Wheelchair project, which received $4,906 for the purchase of a new beach wheelchair, and modifications to two existing ones.

Thursday’s presentation was the national launch of the initiative, which includes a total of nine youth-driven accessibility projects across Canada.

“We’re working toward a Canada with no barriers of any kind, where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate,” Duncan told Peace Arch News following the presentation.

“It’s also important to recognize that (the recipients) are not just the leaders of tomorrow – they’re also the leaders of today.”

Also among well-wishers on-hand were South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg, and White Rock councillors Lynne Sinclair, Bill Lawrence and Grant Meyer.

Later in the afternoon Duncan visited the obstacle-free Wally Ross Trail in South Surrey’s Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, where she highlighted the disabilities-oriented TrailRider vehicle, and individuals and organizations providing opportunities for people with disabilities to become more active in outside environments.

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