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Dementia-friendly public park planned for Calgary

A rendering of the Dementia Inclusive Park. Construction to begin in 2025. (Courtesy Parks Foundation Calgary) A rendering of the Dementia Inclusive Park. Construction to begin in 2025. (Courtesy Parks Foundation Calgary)
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Plans have been announced for the construction of a new first-of-it's-kind dementia-friendly public park in southeast Calgary.

The park will be located in the community of Dover, chosen in part for its proximity to the Bethany Riverview, a highly-specialized dementia care centre.

Barb Ferguson, executive director of Alzheimer Calgary, says the park has been purposely designed for people with dementia.

"Safety is really important for people with dementia, so pathways will be built so people can't get lost," she explained. "And they'll use a lot of shrubs and greenery to make sure that people can't wander off out of the park."

Ferguson says the design for the park, unveiled on Wednesday, also features wide pathways and plenty of seating areas.

"(There will be) lots of sensory stimulation as well, but also noise reduction – because noise can sometimes be a little problematic for somebody with dementia.

"There will also be lots of elements that attract birds, and fragrant gardens."

According to Ferguson, 20,000 Calgarians are living with dementia right now, and that number is expected to grow to 34,000 by 2030.

"Developing an outdoor space where the growing number of people living with dementia as well as their caregivers can feel included and supported has never been more important," said Sheila Taylor, CEO of Parks Foundation.

"We're hoping this will be really intergeneration, so kids will play there. It's not just for people with dementia; we want others to gather there as well."

Though $3 million has already been raised for the construction of the park through donations and community partners, another $750,000 is needed.

Parks Foundation is in the process of fundraising the additional capital.

"People can live a really meaningful, full life even with the diagnosis of dementia," Ferguson said.

"This is a great way to also reduce stigma, because it's going to demonstrate to people that people with dementia can be out, enjoying the outdoors.”

For more information on the park or to donate, you can visit the Parks Foundation website

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