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Kate’s Kause launches 20:20

The Kate’s Kause charity now has its sights on installing washrooms at the at the Gibson park site that bears Kate Meissner’s name. [Karen Meissner]

Kate’s Kause charity is aiming to increase equity and promote inclusivity through its latest endeavour, as organizers have partnered with the Township of Woolwich to complete a permanent accessible washroom in Elmira’s Gibson Park by summer 2020.

The Kate’s Kause 20:20 campaign aims to raise $20,000 of the $200,000 cost.

Kelly Meissner, organizer and founder of Kate’s Kause, said the project is a great way to make every family feel like they belong.

“It’s a big project, and to provide this level of accessibility – we’re going above and beyond,” said Meissner. “We really want to change the game for what this looks like. That’s been our mandate from the get-go: change the game for people living with this disability for them and their families and their friends.”

Families who use the accessible playground at Gibson Park and accessible splash pad at Bolender Park in Elmira are being challenged with the straightforward 20:20 goal: fundraise $20 from 20 people during the park high-season months of June and July.

It may be an ambitious goal, but the charity has a proven track record of completing seemingly massive tasks.

Volunteers and community partners saw their vision come to life when they revitalized Gibson Park in Elmira back in 2012 called Kate’s Place for Everyone. It built a community hub and broke down barriers between children living with disabilities as their peers came together to play.

By 2017, they had met another goal: a vibrant, accessible splash pad along with playground at Bolender Park. It gave life to an underused park in the town and drew even more families to Woolwich Township. Meissner said she is amazed by how many people travel far distances to visit these play areas, including acquaintances from Toronto.

“I can’t believe how many people come from out of town,” said Meissner. “People drive from hours away to have this visit to the park.”

The goal is very personal to Kelly, whose daughter Kate has Angelman’s syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder characterized by a severe global developmental delay. Meissner said these accessible spaces had been an enormous benefit.

“The playground and the splash pad have been amazing for Kate’s development,” said Meissner. “We’re so happy that she has progressed so far physically. She couldn’t walk when we first built the playground; now she walks, runs and jumps – it’s really fun. We’ve loved watching her physical development, but we’ve also, more importantly almost, loved the social development she gets from the playground.”

In addition to helping her own daughter, Meissner wants to extend that feeling of equity to all families dealing with a disability or disorder. She knows the struggle of leaving a destination due to a bathroom emergency. With accessible washrooms, that will no longer be an issue.

“It shouldn’t come down to ‘oh I can’t stay because I can’t use this bathroom.’ We’re often having to acknowledge whenever we go any place with Kate, is there an accessible spot that we can use a bathroom? We have to plan that out.

“Their life is already challenging, and we think we can make it a little easier and help them feel like they’re a typical family participating in their community,” said Meissner, adding these washrooms would also make life easier for the caregiver.

Sponsors have provided a $20 gift card to the first 20 families that complete the 20:20 challenge. Every fundraising family is also entered in a draw to win a $500 Visa gift card.

Every dollar of an individual 20:20 campaign donation made online through Canada Helps (online fundraising hub) in June and July is also an automatic entry for Kate’s Kause to win a $10,000 Giving Challenge donation, a summer giving initiative of Canada Helps, supporting Canadian charities.

For more information on how to participate in Kate’s Kause 20:20 campaign, visit www.kateskause.com. All interested families can register at www.kateskause.com/fundraising-events.

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