Aquatic Play for All Ages & Abilities
Splash pads and aquatic play areas have seen rapid growth over the past couple of decades. And as many parks and recreation organizations look to ensure they are reaching people of all ages and abilities with their offerings, splash pads provide an easy opportunity to offer an inclusive experience.
Q: Ensuring that we are reaching a diverse audience of all ages and abilities is important to our community. What should we consider?
A: Inclusive opportunities abound on the typical spray play area. Most play pieces are spaced with plenty of room, providing access to those in wheelchairs. Age-appropriate zones ensure that everyone can enjoy the experience, with gentler sprays for younger kids and those who want a less intense experience, and dump buckets and more for those who want to amp things up.
Importantly, splash pads provide a range of sensory experiences that provide developmental benefits for kids with and without disabilities.
Q: How can we provide a fun experience for all?
A: Divide your spray features into different zones. For ages 2 to 4, include a zone with gentle activities featuring bubblers and delicate ground sprays. This zone should be located near the perimeter to make it easier for adults to supervise.
A universal zone can provide activities for the whole family, with ground sprays and structures that are centrally located. This creates a transitional area between the gentler and more dynamic experiences.
A dynamic zone for ages 7 and up can feature large, interactive spray features.
Q: What else should we consider?
A: Encourage visitors of different ages and abilities to engage with one another on the splash pad through interactive water play features. Water tables provide a great opportunity for everyone to play together and socialize as they explore cause and effect.
Be sure that your site is easily accessible for people of all abilities. Place your spray play area near parking and other accessible amenities, and be sure to provide an accessible pathway.
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