Creating an accessible city for all

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Exploring Frankston City with his siblings is one of Cooper Smith’s favourite things to do.

The Seaford 14-year-old has Cerebral Palsy and often needs a wheelchair to get around but when it comes to visiting the city with his sister Pepper, 11, and brother Woody, 8, he can easily roll with the punches.

This week is International Day for People With a Disability (3 December) and Cooper’s mother Bronwyn Leeks said there were plenty of accessible places their whole family could enjoy in Frankston City.

“We have been living in Frankston for 12 years now and we love how much the area has changed and grown,” Ms Leeks said.

“Especially when it comes to developing more inclusive practises and making experiences and activities more accessible for people with a disability.”

“Getting outdoors, we love wandering the Sweet Water Creek track and the wetlands track from Seaford. Admiring the art at McClelland Gallery and taking in a show at the Arts centre. 

“Frankston is a great walkable city too with amazing street art to enjoy and great cafes easy to access in the Shannon Mall area such as The Cupcake Queens and Mr Panda which are some of our favourites for wheelchair access.” 

Ms Leeks said International Day for People with a Disability was not about singling out those with a disability but instead highlighting that they too are valued members of the community.

“We don't do anything extra special on the day as its just normal for us, part of our family and who our son is,” she said.

“It’s not a token day it’s our every day and Coop is a valued member of his school and community. 

“It is a good way of making people more aware of disability and celebrating the whole person.”

She said the internationally recognised day was also chance to educate businesses and the public about making disability access and inclusion part of their preplanning process.  

“Get people with a disability on board to work and plan. It's all about attitude and planning and experimenting with what works.”

Frankston City Mayor Sandra Mayer agreed with Ms Leeks.

 “We are always looking at ways we can improve our accessibility so that every single member of our community is accounted for,” the Mayor said.

“Council offers a number of specialised facilities as part of its overall strategy to improve accessibility and inclusiveness for all Frankston residents such as Changing Places Accessible Toilets, change rooms, free beach wheelchair hire, a Liberty Wheelchair Swing and the opportunity to access a MLAK Key.”

“We are constantly upgrading our existing facilities too, such as Ballam Park Reserve which now has new walking paths for greater wheelchair access.”

Visit www.idpwd.com.au for more details about International Day for People with Disabilities.

For more information about Frankston City’s accessible facilities visit frankston.vic.gov.au.  

Pictured: Cooper with his brother and sister in Ballam Park.

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