Five Counties Children’s Centre Seeks Help with Northumberland Backyard Project

In Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland

Between now and Tuesday (Nov. 15), Five Counties Children’s Centre is reaching out to local residents for help with their Northumberland Backyard Project.
This project would see an unused piece of land behind the Five Counties Children’s Centre in Cobourg (at 800 Division St.) transformed into a safe, fully accessible backyard – green space available for treatment, recreation, cultural awareness and outdoor-education programming. You can support the on-line funding application they are pursuing by visiting https://thecommonwell.ca/locations/fccc-accessible-safe-backyard-green-space/

While Five Counties is spearheading the drive, it is being pursued in partnership with the County of Northumberland, Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre, YMCA Northumberland, and the local EarlyON Child and Family Centre. All of these agencies see this space as supporting their own programs and services, as well as the broader community.

The partners have applied to Commonwealth Mutual Insurance Group for nearly $50,000 in funding for the first phase of the Backyard Project through their LEAF (Learning and Engagement Accelerator Fund), which supports community projects that promote learning and capacity improvements. Part of the funding is based on community support for a project – and that’s where local residents can help by visiting the website and having their say on why this project matters. It can involve writing a short story, sharing a photo, leaving an encouraging comment or spreading the word on social media. And all expressions of support are due by Tuesday.

“We know there is a long-term need for this type of accessible backyard green space in Northumberland County, so we encourage everyone in coming days to show your support online and spread the word to neighbours and friends,” Five Counties Chief Executive Officer Scott Pepin said in the press release.

At present, the 25,200-sq.-ft. piece of property cannot be used because of safety and accessibility issues form a nearby drainage ditch and traffic from an adjacent driveway and parking lot. The vision is to put up fencing and install an accessible playground, sensory play equipment, accessible garden area, gazebo, storage space and (eventually) a track.

This space could then be made available to clients, families and visitors of Five Counties, as well as the EarlyON Centre, the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre and other community program providers.

No timeline is now in place for completing the project. To date, Five Counties and its partners have secured about 40% of funding for the estimated $255,000 cost. But the investment is considered well worth it, as demonstrated by a similar Backyard Project Five Counties completed about two years ago at their Peterborough site.

“As we’ve seen in Peterborough, the proposed accessible playground and natural enhancements to the outdoor space at our Northumberland site will have countless benefits to the children and youth who receive therapy services at the centre, as well as other families and community members across the county,” Pepin continued.

“Once realized, the Northumberland Project would be a space which offers inclusion by natural design, creating a place for children with and without disabilities to play easily and build friendships.”

“We are extremely grateful to our partner agencies in seeing the value of the Northumberland Backyard Project for all kids and families, and helping us to secure funding that will be needed to turn our field of dreams into a viable and valuable outdoor space for the entire community,” Five Counties Director of Fund Development Lyn Giles added.

“We are also very appreciative of the donors who have already committed funds to the backyard project, as we continue on the road to a successful completion

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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