More than a trend, it’s a crucial social shift: the growing demand for inclusive playgrounds. Here, we look at two questions: why and how?
Of course, it’s about popularity: if you build a play space for more people, more people will come. But it’s also driven by a broader awareness of the needs of all users of public parks, schools and communities – and the benefits of bringing them together.
And that’s the key. Playing together: rather than someone being ‘benched’ on the sidelines or playing (alone) with the only piece of equipment that’s been designed for them.
An accessible playground makes interactive, friendly play more likely: which enriches people and communities with an appreciation of diversity and inclusion.
In the words of Sruthi Atmakur, Unicef:
Inclusive play benefits all children, regardless of ability: It helps them develop a true and nuanced understanding of the world, to appreciate the differences between people and recognize the similarities that underlie them, to be tolerant of diversity and to accept others’ perspectives. By giving children with and without disabilities a chance to play together, inclusive play spaces can serve as joyful incubators of a more inclusive society, in which children with disabilities can participate equally and enjoy equal opportunities to flourish.
And that goes for adults too.
A truly inclusive space considers so many things: accessible and intergenerational play equipment and pathways, passive areas, sensory and tactile play, different challenges, visual cues, fencing, and transport ease. Here are a few thought-starters on promoting fun for everyone.
From basket swings to wheelchair carousels and trampolines for wheelchairs: everyone can use them and have a ball together. Interactive play panels at accessible heights are always a big attraction too. And what about ‘face-to-face’ multi-generational swing sets, as well as health and fitness equipment, for fun at every age?
Interesting textures, sounds, shapes and colours are a magnet for all kids, and can be particularly important for children with sensory processing issues. Things like sand and water play, musical instruments and certain physical experiences – like rocking or spinning – provide sensations that some children might crave. At the same time, some cozy or smaller areas to retreat can be important too.
Technology will play a bigger part in the playgrounds of the future – and we have some exciting announcements on the way! Whether it’s a bridge with bells or electronic interactive play, there are already great options to marry high-tech with active fun for everyone.
This is the tip of the iceberg. We’d love to help you review, update or design spaces that inspire people of all ages and abilities to play together. Contact us now.