Problem Solver - August 2012
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Create Inclusive Play Opportunities

More and more park districts, schools, YMCAs and other organizations are getting the message that accessibility matters on the playground. Providing a place to play that does not shut out any children is not only the law—it's also the right thing to do.

Creating playgrounds that are inclusive for children of all abilities—as well as their caretakers—need not be a challenge. But to make a playground truly inclusive does require a design that surpasses the technical requirements.

Q: What should we know about playgrounds and accessibility?

A: Many playgrounds these days are technically accessible, but may not actually meet the needs of children in wheelchairs or with other kinds of challenges, Making a playground accessible means more than just meeting the minimum legal requirements and standards for accessibility. A truly accessible playground goes beyond the requirements to provide a place where children of varying abilities can play together.

It is possible to create a play space that will meet the needs of children regardless of each child's ability level, but you must work with a playground manufacturer that is well versed in meeting these needs.

Many play spaces incorporate ground-level play activities as well as ramps that allow mobility-challenged children to reach multiple levels. When you incorporate such elements, the playground becomes fun and exciting for all children.

Q: What kinds of accessible play equipment should we consider?

A: Some of the most commonly found ADA-compliant play equipment includes sand boxes, water features and play panels. These have the added benefit of providing play that is both inclusive and exploratory. Children love to manipulate sand and water, and learn something in the process. And the interactive nature of this play allows children of all abilities to play together, without creating a separate space for children with different abilities.

Other commonly found accessible play components include swings and ramps that allow children to access levels of a play structure they might not be able to reach otherwise.

Q: We want to create opportunities for inclusive play at our playground, but our budget for new equipment is very limited. What can we do?

A: Tight budgets are a common problem these days. And inclusive playgrounds are typically massive in size, providing ramped access to platforms and upper-level play events. In this tough economy, parks and recreation professionals are seeking ways to provide play events that provide social interaction and physical access to play for everyone, without breaking the budget.

The good news is that you can find inclusive play elements that provide fun for children at a price point that anyone can afford. A thrilling re-creation of the merry-go-round is an easy addition that provides ergonomic seats as well as standing steps. Children can propel themselves using a fixed wheel at the top or pushing from the edge. Children will love the excitement of spinning together, while developing physical and social skills.


Miracle Recreation: 888-458-2752