Building a community where everyone has access can mean many things. It can mean facilitating and promoting movement throughout the streets, stores and homes for seniors who struggle with moblity issues, for individuals with physical disabilities (or “diversabilities” according to former  Valley Echo DTSS work experience student and columnist Kate Gibbs), and for moms encumbered with kids and strollers.

It can mean ensuring equitable employment opportunities. It can mean providing access to recreation, whether it’s in a school playground or on the ski hill.

Thanks to ACE (Accessiblity in the Community for Everyone), the Columbia Valley communities do an excellent job making the promotion of inclusivity and access mainstream.  A young Eileen Madson Primary student didn’t think twice about asking — for her birthday — for donations toward an accessible playground for her school, which became a reality earlier this year.  A beach wheelchair, thanks to the Panoarama Foundation in collaboration with ACE, is now available to anyone who needs it at Kinsmen Beach, making it possible for anyone with a disability to get into the water with just a little help. Panorama Adaptive Snow Sports (PASS),which operates out of Panorama Mountain Resort and has established a community-based adaptive snow sport program for the entire Kootenays region, is yet another example of how local residents work to include everyone’s enjoyment of the valley’s outdoor lifestyle. The biggest feat has yet to come, when the 2015 International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Championships descend on Panorama next March.

Talk about having an ACE in the hole!