Playground design has changed a lot in the past decades, with new products, custom design capabilities and smart play technology leading the way. Fortunately, another major advancement in playground design, inclusive play, has also made huge strides in the last few years. Today, playground elements specifically designed to promote play for all children and all abilities are an important factor when designing and building playgrounds.
What Are Inclusive Playgrounds?
Inclusive playgrounds are play areas thoughtfully designed to inspire and promote play for all children, regardless of ability. Not only are they accessible for wheelchairs and those with physical limitations, but they also cater to other disabilities such as sensory, emotional, social, cognitive and chronic health issues.
Inclusive playground designers understand that not all disabilities are apparent or can be seen. They’ve spent years researching which products and design elements work best to enhance the play experience. The goal is to create opportunities for interaction and social engagement for everyone. For example, incorporating musical instruments can provide a safe way to encourage a child with sensory processing disorder to play side-by-side with a child in a wheelchair. They can both create music and connect, while having fun and building confidence.
Amalie L. “Amy” Koppel Memorial Playground, an inclusive playground in Harlingen, TX, is pictured above.
Four Key Components of an Inclusive Playground
Inclusive playgrounds come in all shapes and sizes. They can incorporate custom themes or be specifically designed for a unique location. However, to be truly inclusive, a playground should incorporate the four key components:
- Accessibility – ADA approved wheelchair accessible route to playground
- Equal Opportunity – All kids can participate in ground and elevated play
- Variety – Something for everyone (music, sensory, social, fine and gross motor skills)
- Integration – In the past, some playgrounds had a “separate” area for those with disabilities. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. An inclusive playground integrates everything together, encouraging social interaction.
At Park Place Recreation Designs, we believe that all children should be able to play in a safe, fun and friendly environment. It’s also important for us that the play environment does not look “therapeutic” and that able-bodied kids will want to play there, too. This fosters a healthy mix of abilities where children can interact with and learn about each other. It’s fun, physical and social. Win, win, win for all!
If you’d like more information about inclusive playground design, or would like to talk with one of our inclusive play experts, contact us today.