Medium: Mixed construction

Credit(s): Jen Gellis

Art ID: 133

Year: 2010

Sensory Wall

The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games presented a number of associated opportunities for Whistler. One remarkable opportunity was the possibility of developing an inclusive playground. In addition to municipal funds allocated to develop a playground in Village North, the provincial agency 2010 Legacies Now offered potential funding to create a playground that would showcase the concept of inclusivity. Initially, Whistler competed for the funds with the cities of Vancouver and Richmond. Ultimately, funds were allocated to all three communities so the concept could be explored in varied ways and demonstrated in areas where many visitors and media would be exposed to this type of playground.

Funds were provided from the Province of British Columbia, the Ronald McDonald House Charity and the Rick Hansen Foundation. Also, the three communities were introduced to the non-profit organization Shane’s Inspiration, which has developed and advocated the idea of inclusive play. With assistance from these organizations and with inspired work from other consultants and artisans, the municipality developed this unique playground that attempts to create a range of play opportunities, textures and experiences, providing children of all abilities a chance to play together in this setting, inspired by place.

One component of the playground is the sensory wall. Through an art competition, the municipality selected artist Jen Gellis to create a unique, highly textured wall or place that would appeal to young children, drawing them in to see, touch and hear the features of the wall. In addition to her work as an artist, Jen Gellis is an occupational therapist that specializes in working with children. She was inspired to create her interpretation of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains with the Musical Bumps in between. The mountains are capped with smooth white stones and the bases are embedded with colourful leaf ceramics that were created through a children’s art making workshop staged by the artist.

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