Between Friends Inclusive Indoor Play Space

The Cause

Between Friends is an inspiring Calgary-based charitable organization. We provide opportunities for people with disabilities to feel included and develop lasting friendships through recreation, social, and skill-building activities – both our own, and by supporting members in community-based programs. Our commitment to our community and our 40 years of experience have allowed us to adapt to meet the needs of over 800 members, of all ages and all abilities, annually.
Inclusion is of paramount importance at Between Friends, and we believe that everyone should be valued and have the opportunity to reach their full potential within society. Our part in building an inclusive world is to continually meet the ever-evolving needs of our community and provide safe, fun, and supportive ways for our members, their families, as well as the community at large, to connect, grow and belong.
We are seeking The Field Community Fund’s support in the creation of a business plan for this unique social enterprise opportunity.
Using the seven principles of universal design as our foundation, we will ensure that our Play Space meets the needs of all people who wish to use it and becomes the standard for inclusivity through the creation of imaginative, accessible and inclusive spaces where people of all abilities can share in the joy of play, human connection and belonging.
In addition to creating a fun space that all can enjoy, the Play Space would:
• Fill an underserved market need for accessible play spaces (in particular, accessible indoor play spaces)
• Position the organization as a leader in accessible recreation
• Be open to anyone who wishes to access it (including existing Between Friends clientele, the general public, our business partners, program leaders and educators seeking (accessible) recreation options)
• Be used as a year round facility for programming and partnership engagements
• Double as a head office for Between Friends; connecting office staff to the members we serve & programs we run, on a daily basis
• Offer employment opportunities for people with disabilities
• Increase volunteer opportunities which could turn into financial support for the organization
• Provide natural partnership opportunities with external businesses who employ people with disabilities (i.e. Lil E Cafe)
• Expand current partnership opportunities that brings awareness and educates the public about the disability world & inclusion (i.e. Universal Access)

Who Will it Benefit?

In the short term, funding from The Field Law Community Fund will benefit Between Friends directly by reducing financial strain and by providing the financial support to create the building blocks of our social enterprise. The additional revenue will allow for greater financial sustainability within the organization, as existing funding will continue to support our programs and feed the heart of our organization: our members.
Beyond this, the benefits are endless. Recreation and play are so essential to child development around the world that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes it as a right of every child. It forges powerful social connections that enriches life and significantly improves every facet of life. Active involvement in social and recreational activities fosters active citizenship, social inclusion, improves physical and mental health, and increases self-esteem. By participating in recreation, individuals with and without disabilities have opportunities to develop skills and confidence in their abilities. This confidence enhances an individual’s ability to be successful in other areas of their life.

Populations that might benefit from the Between Friends Play Space include: existing members and their families, the general public (non-members), other non-profits, daycares/preschools, local business partners, and the wider disability community. Everyone will be welcome in our Play Space, regardless of their ability, age, religious affiliation, gender, gender identity or culture.

Play Spaces create opportunities to break down barriers through interactive activities, and most importantly to Between Friends, they offer teachable opportunities where people can see a person before their disability. The Between Friends Play Space will be a safe gathering space where people of all ages and abilities can learn to work together, have fun, and build friendships. If one of our core human needs is to belong, our social enterprise will undoubtedly fill this need, benefiting society as a whole whilst creating a vehicle for social change.