Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese has officially opened Australia’s first purpose-built dementia park on behalf of Sydney’s Inner West Council, with the reserve named in memory of a long-serving former Mayor.
“Lewis Herman was a tireless and energetic advocate for his community. He served as Mayor of Ashfield for 15 years,” said Prime Minister Albanese.
“I can’t think of a more fitting way to honour his legacy than by opening the Lewis Herman Reserve here in Ashfield.
“A place that brings the community together adding to the quality of life here.”
Inner West Mayor, Darcy Byrne said dementia-friendly parks and open spaces were about “gentle inclusion”, and Lewis Herman Reserve had been designed to respond to the need for accessible facilities for all.
“This park is a break-through in design and delivery of a park that meets the needs of the whole of community,” said Mayor Byrne.
“We are excited to deliver a park that supports multi-generational use by the community and reflects the diverse background of the community.
“We have an ageing population and absolutely need to have recreation spaces that cater for all members of our community, especially residents living with dementia and their loved ones.
“This park is a safe and inclusive space designed in consultation with the broad community and with key stakeholders like Ashfield Baptist Homes, who understand first-hand the ways we can enhance the quality of life for their residents.”
Sensory gardens with native vegetation have been created, providing sensory stimulus to elderly visitors from the Ashfield Baptist Homes, and seniors throughout the community.
The new reserve has wide paths, providing access to areas of interest for those using walking frames and in wheelchairs.
Resting and gathering spots can be found throughout the park, including ease of access comfortable seating.The park will also provide a new and diverse children’s playground which is inclusive, accessible and available to all children to play, explore and create.
A genuinely multi-generational recreation reserve, the park will also feature picnic and passive recreation facilities including seating, shelters, and BBQ.
The Council says Mr Herman OAM was a passionate advocate for Ashfield and multiculturalism, serving a remarkable 35 years as a councillor, including as Mayor from 1976 to 1991.
“One of thing I really welcome is that we’re getting better at building parks that meet a variety of needs and we’re better at understanding that,” said Cr Mark Drury.
“We know how important recreation spaces are for people and this is probably the first new park in 30 years in the old Ashfield area – a new park that caters for people with special needs.
“I’m pleased with linked up with the neighbours Ashfield Baptist Homes (ABH) and they were able to influence the design.”
ABH is a not-for-profit aged care organisation operated by Ashfield Baptist Church, located on the south border of the reserve.
As part of broad community engagement, ABH were consulted as a key stakeholder in the project.
Ashfield Baptist Homes Chief Executive Leigh Kildey said, “I see them having morning tea in each other’s company in another environment and taking their loves ones there and seeing their grandkids playing in the park.”
“The way the pathways meander around is great and the tree planting has a tactile feel, which is important for people living with dementia, they have aromas that take them back to a place.”
The $1.4 million upgrade has been delivered by Inner West Council with funding from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.