Domtar’s commitment to diversity and inclusion reaches beyond our facilities. It influences our investments in our communities, driving us to ensure that all our neighbors can benefit. This includes investing in inclusive recreation activities whenever possible.
Many companies and communities are more aware and appreciative of diversity today, and they understand that a deliberate effort to acknowledge differences can help everyone. We are proud of our contributions to ensure children and adults with special needs can participate fully in meaningful and inclusive recreation activities.
We have supported these efforts in Ashdown, Arkansas, and Rock Hill, South Carolina, by sponsoring the development of inclusive playgrounds for children of all abilities. We also have donated money and volunteer hours to Camp Blue Skies, which organizes camp experiences for adults with special needs in North and South Carolina.
Inclusive Recreation at Ashdown City Park and Miracle Park
Domtar is a longtime supporter of the Ashdown Community Foundation, which raised funds for a new inclusive playground in Ashdown City Park. Through its annual community auction and donations from Domtar and the Blue and You Foundation, the foundation raised money to provide an inclusive recreation environment where children with and without disabilities can enjoy playing together.
The park opened in late 2022 and has been used by many local families.
“We have visited the new playground several times, and we love that it is accessible to everyone,” says resident Amber Freeman. “We have three girls, one having special needs that also has a sensory disorder, and she loves every part of the playground and never wants to leave when we go play there! I’m so happy to see that Ashdown has something like this that literally every child can enjoy.”
The goal of the Ashdown City Park Inclusive Playground project is to promote healthy, active lifestyles through physical activity for children of all abilities.
Removing physical and social barriers to participation also encourages meaningful relationships among children with varying abilities and greater sensory and cognitive skills for those with disabilities.
Inclusive play equipment supports a variety of sensory and cognitive benefits. Swinging, sliding and play panels all integrate multiple senses while also stimulating cognitive skills.
The inclusive recreation project covers more than 4,400 square feet and features 38 play activities. The ramps throughout allow wheelchairs to maneuver through the playground with ease, but the park also features a wheelchair-accessible rocker cruiser. The cruiser has enough room for two wheelchairs and can accommodate up to 12 children of all abilities.
A roller slide adds a cool sensory experience, but also keeps children with cochlear implants from experiencing static interference that can occur with plastic slides. Various play panels and interactive musical equipment create a sensory rich environment that cultivates cognitive growth.
Domtar also financially supported a similar park construction in Rock Hill, South Carolina, named Miracle Park. This venue includes an inclusive playground area as well as a baseball field for the Miracle League. A second phase is in development to add an additional baseball field and a multipurpose field and an educational center.
Camp for Adults with Special Needs
For adults with disabilities, opportunities are limited when it comes to experiencing the outdoor activities and social experiences often found at camp.
Dick Sesler, a retired businessman from Charlotte, North Carolina, understood this need. That’s why in 2010 he founded Camp Blue Skies, an overnight camp for adults with disabilities.
Camp Blue Skies allows individuals with special needs to enjoy a safe, friendly and inclusive recreation environment that can accommodate their physical and developmental challenges. The camp, which holds sessions in Georgia and North Carolina, has been a resounding success.
Domtar has proudly partnered with Camp Blue Skies to help make camp a reality for adults with disabilities. Many Domtar volunteers have worked in years past to help set up inclusive recreation activities for campers, including zip lines, ropes courses, Frisbee games and post-lunch singalongs in the cafeteria.
Domtar President and CEO John D. Williams, who serves on the organization’s board of directors, also has volunteered at camp.
“I had a wonderful time visiting Camp Blue Skies,” says Williams. “Each day the campers were challenged to do an activity they had never done before. During my visit, I was able to watch them not only accomplish their challenge, but also have fun along the way. It made for a very bright day.”
Read more about Domtar’s community investments in recreation and commitment to diversity and inclusion: