Author: Austin Stanfel
A playground is a place for children belonging to all walks of life to gather together and play, and it is every child’s birthright to do so. It doesn’t matter which nation or background the child has come from; play is significant for the complete development of a child. Giving a child around 60 minutes every day to play will help develop language skills, thinking, motor skills. Sensory perception and so forth – and this is true for every child.
Local playgrounds must be inclusive playgrounds, allowing children with all kinds of abilities a chance to play – and this includes differently-abled children. When we talk about inclusive playgrounds, we are not only talking about the essential provision of wheelchairs and ramps for children, but we are talking about a mindset change, making the children feel right at home at the playground – like they belong there. To put this into words – there is a sense of equality.
What is the importance of such inclusion for playgrounds?
With inclusive playgrounds, children of all abilities can have a safe space to express themselves in physical motion through play and also allows them to start mingling with other children and to make friends.
This is important because an inclusive playground offers accessibility to children – meaning that it provides solid playability for children of all abilities. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that an inclusive playground will offer wheelchair ramps, custom playground equipment that will enable differently-abled children to be able to play, and so forth.
Inclusive playgrounds also offer children the ability to engage with other children with different histories, backgrounds, heritages, and bond together in friendship. It helps break the social barrier that most differently-abled children face at a young age – where it is easier for children to learn to accept differently-abled children as their friends.
Inclusive playgrounds are all about integration. By offering customized equipment that can accommodate both typically abled and differently-abled children, no segregation occurs, and there is cohesive bonding that takes place, and the children can have a great time. This helps to build community and relationships that last the test of time.
And perhaps the most critical thing that inclusive playgrounds have to offer to children is the fact that they act as educational places, meaning that an inclusive playground will help educate the children that play there that every single child, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, deserves a chance to play with children their age, without fear of discrimination and bullying. It also states that every child has the right to explore their abilities and develop their skills while learning new things on the playground. This will teach the attitudes of compassion, tenderness, empathy, and tolerance in the young minds that play at the inclusive playground.
Inclusive playgrounds also focus a lot on the safety of the children that play there, which is a big priority, especially in the case of differently-abled children who need specialized equipment to ensure their safety.