National Access Week In Peterborough- The Peterborough Examiner

National Access Week in Peterborough aims to change attitudes on accessibility

By Jessica Nyznik, The Peterborough Examiner

John McNutt, Council for Person with Disabilities chair, front, and Michael Skinner, CEO and president of the Innovation Cluster, participate in an experiential program at the launch of National Access Week at Peterborough Square on Monday, May 29, 2017. The week celebrates accessibility and inclusion in the community. JESSICA NYZNIK/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

John McNutt, Council for Person with Disabilities chair, front, and Michael Skinner, CEO and president of the Innovation Cluster, participate in an experiential program at the launch of National Access Week at Peterborough Square on Monday, May 29, 2017. The week celebrates accessibility and inclusion in the community.

National Access Week kicked off Monday, celebrating the community’s efforts in creating an accessible and inclusive environment.

An opening ceremony was held at Peterborough Square, where a number of guest speakers, dance performances and an experiential challenge took place.

Awards were also given out to four businesses as recognition for being accessibility champions.

Jason King, the regional co-ordinator for the Council of Persons with Disabilities, said the week is all about creating an attitudinal change in the community

“People don’t have disabilities, they have a disabled community … if we had access for everything, we could not worry about disability in any way, shape or form,” he said.

Lorie Gill, vice-president of the Women’s Business Network, was one of a handful of people to take part in the Time in My Shoes (TIMS) program at the event.

The experiential program puts hearing, mobility, vision and communication to the test.

It’s offered by the Council of Persons with Disabilities to help people better understand accessibility.

Participants wore simulation goggles that impaired their judgment, took hearing and communication tests and used a wheelchair to get around the mall.

Gill said the experience was eye opening.

“You really have to be more cognizant. It’s not that someone has a disability – they just get around differently than you do,” she said.

The Council of Persons with Disabilities used to only offer TIMS to students during Access Week, with schools bringing students to take part.

But now, thanks to funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the organization is able to go into schools to teach the program to kids in Grades 4 to 8.

They’ve also expanded to teach TIMS at Trent University and Fleming College and plan to bring it into businesses this year.

At the end of the opening ceremonies, the 2017 Accessibility Champion Awards were handed out.

This year’s winners are Saugeen Shafts, Activity Haven Seniors Centre, Peterborough Communication Support Services and Kawartha Participation Projects.

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