University receives 1$ million in funding for Oland Centre Renovations
On March 20, StFX students, faculty and members of the Antigonish community greeted Nova Scotia Finance and Treasury Board Minister Randy Delorey’s announcement of $1 million in provincial funding for the 2018 National Special Olympics Summer Games. The event is ex-pected to bring approximately 4000 people from across Canada to the StFX campus.
This will be the second time the province has held the national summer games having last been hosted in Halifax in 1994.
Mr. Delorey emphasized that modern updated facilities would have a “long-lasting impact on the community” with the potential to bring further provincial and national events to StFX.
President Dr. MacDonald explained that renovations will be made to the Oland Stadium. This involves first removing the dilapidated bleachers and making the stadium more accessible with an increased capacity of 1500 spectators.
He also promised to take further steps towards creating an “inclusive campus” by improving cer-tain Oland Centre facilities and making them user friendly for all.
According to Dr. Amanda Casey, HKIN Professor of Disability and Health and the Program Co-ordinator for Motor Activities with X (MAX), a more accessible venue has the potential to attract “students and community-members with various disabilities and allow more to be socialized and included in on-campus events moving forward.”
When asked what accommodations can be made to ensure a successful event, Dr. Casey, who sits on the Students with Disabilities Committee explained, “Physical and social barriers often present major obstacles that influence participation in physical activity and society in general. I don’t know the specific details of the funding but I do know that accessibility on-campus has been an issue raised by students as well as Faculty and staff for many years.”
For the Special Olympics to be an equitable and user-friendly event, Dr. Casey stressed the im-portance for organizers from StFX and the Town of Antigonish to think beyond the stadium and a single physical structure in order to consider a full range of accessibility need:
“Each participant has unique needs with varying degrees of disability. A fully inclusive campus involves designing for all ages and ability levels including individuals with physical, intellec-tual/developmental, visual, hearing and emotional disabilities as well as their family members.”
Furthermore, Dr. Casey explained that practical adaptations may be needed as well, in regards to “transportation, living accommodations, washrooms and further consideration of social ele-ments, inter-personal behaviours as well as verbal and written communication strategies.”
As for students looking to get involved Dr. Casey says “Go for it.” Many HKIN students are keen to participate but she explains that it is important to have collaboration and input from across campus and the wider community.
“With disability, you require expertise in different areas as well as people who are open to diver-sity. Antigonish, a relatively rural community, has an opportunity to set an example that it is pos-sible to facilitate inclusion no matter the location. Students therefore have an important role to play,” Casey stated.
Second year HKIN student Katie Vaughan is a student in Dr. Casey’s HKIN 395 Disability, Health and Community Rehabilitation class, and intends to volunteer for this event.
She states, “This is an exciting opportunity for the StFX community to promote inclusion! We have been discussing universal design approaches in class and the importance of removing barriers to accessibility for everyone. I am hopeful StFX will move towards this goal. However, building a structure is only a small step towards making this happen.”