New society to spearhead ramp building project in Fernie

Gracie Lou Foundation launches to make Fernie more inclusive; ramp building event slated for June 22

A new non-profit society has launched in Fernie to help guide the community towards becoming more inclusive.

Local ability advocate Grace Brulotte has founded the Gracie Lou Foundation along with photographer Scott Courtemanche and Elkford councillor Steve Fairbairn.

They hope to improve the physical environment, sense of inclusion and level of awareness of and for all persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and anyone with limited functionality in and around Fernie.

LOOK BACK: Fernie initiative to ramp up accessibility

First on their agenda is building 15 portable wooden ramps to improve access to businesses in the downtown core.

“The society asserts that inclusion is important in welcoming people of any ability, whether that be a person with a disability, a senior citizen, parents with strollers or anyone with limited functionality,” said the foundation in a press release.

“The Gracie Lou Foundation believes that Ramp Up is an essential and influential step in making inclusion a reality in Fernie.”

The Ramp Building Extravaganza will be held on June 22 from 9 a.m. followed by a community barbecue on June 23 at noon, where the completed ramps will be presented to businesses. Both events will take place at the Fernie Legion parking lot.

Brulotte estimates 10 to 15 volunteers are needed to build the ramps and the time commitment should be minimal.

“No experience is needed, just someone who is handy and willing to do some work,” she said.

Volunteers are asked to bring their own tools, such as a hammer, drill or screwdriver, if possible.

Brulotte said overall the response to Ramp Up has been overwhelmingly positive, with many businesses expressing interest in not only receiving a ramp but also lending assistance to the project.

“We’ve even had businesses that are already inclusive ask to sponsor ramps for other stores,” she said.

Would you or someone you know be interested in supporting the Gracie Lou Foundation and Ramp Up? Any support is welcome, whether that’s helping to build the ramps, advertising the event or approaching potential funders for the project.

Downtown businesses are also invited to request a ramp for their storefront. To find out more, email Grace at rampup2019@gmail.com.

You can also keep up with their progress by following the society on Facebook.

Editor’s note: the print version of this story wrongly stated that Steve Fairbairn was a Sparwood councillor. This is incorrect and we apologize for any confusion caused.

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