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Australia is home to more than 350,000 children with a disability, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
With this in mind, adventure+ recognises the need to include them in playtime just the same as any able-bodied child. Our team of experts have years of experience in providing tailor-made play units and inclusive playground equipment to enhance the well-being and development of children of all abilities.
But what exactly goes into designing an inclusive playground and what makes them different?
The difference between accessibility and inclusivity should be understood before designing a playground. We highly recommend you check out this article for a more extensive understanding.
Accessibility is about movement and approach. If a child in a wheelchair can’t enjoy all or some aspects of the playground because all elements are reached via stairs – a playground is inaccessible. This includes the play space surroundings as well as the playground itself.
Contrastingly, inclusivity is about facilitating an engaging play experience for all children once they have accessed the playground.
To aid in the accessibility of your playground, consider incorporating these design elements:
But what do inclusive playgrounds look like, and how does it facilitate an enjoyable playtime for all?
Inclusivity means that everyone can participate together, regardless of age, ability or background. It provides space and play activities for children and carers with or without disabilities to safely play together. Consequently, you cannot segregate accessible areas if you want to have an inclusive space.
A genuinely inclusive playground doesn’t have areas off to the side for children with disabilities or designated spaces for special needs playground equipment. Inclusive means everyone is a part of play with peers of all abilities. Inclusive playgrounds create an atmosphere where everyone can interact with each other, explore, imagine and play together.
More inclusive play spaces allow children to connect with others positively, relieve stress, stimulate creative thinking and exploration, boost confidence and enable children to enjoy the pleasure and benefits of play.
Designing and building an inclusive playground is a vital consideration for children with a disability and even for children who seek to share their playtime with a disabled friend or family member.
Of those 357,000 disabled children in 2018, three quarters needed assistance with at least one activity – with cognitive and mobility issues affecting more than 90 percent of them. An inclusive playground removes barriers between children, despite their differences, and allows them to play and grow together as they should. All children considered, an inclusive playground is paramount to their wellbeing and development.
There are numerous benefits of an inclusive and accessible playground to consider:
With so much to consider beginning your inclusive playground project can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to narrow down what elements will provide the most significant value to children of all abilities. To this end, multi-sensory elements are a must. As many children today prefer to play indoors on mobile devices, the precious time they spend outdoors should maximise their sensory development.
These multi-sensory elements can improve a child’s abilities in various areas, such as problem-solving, decision making, comprehension, motor skills, self-esteem, and creativity.
On the flip side, it’s also essential to include an opportunity for calm in your playground design. Secluded or quiet areas in the playground, which are still within the sightline, are great for when children experience sensory overload and need to retreat to a calm place to recalibrate.
No inclusive playground is complete without consideration for the surrounding facilities. Your efforts to create a space that is accessible can be quickly undone by poor site planning or a lack of purposeful amenities nearby. By considering these factors, playground designers can provide parents and children with a more convenient and stress-free experience. Moreover, knowing that such facilities are available will make your community more likely to visit the playground over other options.
Some of the amenities to consider as part of your holistic, inclusive approach that can be overlooked include:
adventure+ recognises that all children are created with equal desire and need to experience play. A well-designed inclusive playground welcomes children and adults of all abilities to a play experience where everyone can interact and play together.
If you’re looking to design a playground with inclusivity in mind, contact us to help configure a playground that will keep children from all walks of life happy.