” A child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational
activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life
and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational
and leisure activity.”
From UN Convention on the Rights Of A Child Article 31
So why is it so many playgrounds in the UK don’t enable children with disabilities to participate fully, and promote equal opportunities? Most of the play equipment is not suitable for our kids. The token wheelchair roundabout is usually thrown in, without thought so that planners can tick a box. They don’t encourage children to play together despite their differences.
“Don’t forget that children with disabilities want to play to. They have friends/siblings who are able bodied (AB), they want to play with them side by side, not segregated to a disabled & toddlers area. They don’t want to be sat at the bottom of the slide looking up at their peers wishing that they were ‘just like them’. They don’t want to be with their AB friends, who suddenly find a steep hill, or steps. climbing much more fun then playing in the ‘inclusive part’. Parents have to stop being made to break heir backs to try and lift their child onto a piece of equipment so that their child doesn’t feel left out. Don’t just stick in a ‘wheelchair roundabout’ and think ‘job done’. Kids are kids are kids. It doesn’t matter whether they are AB, disabled, pink with spots on. They love to play, they love to explore, they love to socialise. Structures need to encompass everyone, utilise the underneath so wheelchairs can weave in and out. Sensory items must be included as standard. Mainstream schools include everyone, there then needs to be someone for kids to play together outside of school.
The brand new Alver Valley play park Gosport Borough Council is a bad model of how to segregate people. Designed by people, who ‘think’ that they know about disabilities, but have never experienced being a disabled child themselves. ASK THE KIDS THEMSELVES! The WHOLE playground needs to have ALL the needs of ALL of the kids involved. Otherwise, if we carry on segregating in the playground, we are never going to achieve an all inclusive society.”
UPDATE: July 2018.
I am now working with my local council to help design a brand new playground that will be opening 2019.