I think we can all remember a time when a friend or loved one was unable to access something because of mobility issues. A friend, with a broken foot, or a grandparent in a wheelchair. It’s not uncommon to run into difficulties when trying to access older playgrounds that were never built to be accessible. The struggle of trying to drag or push a wheelchair or walker through impossible playground terrain can be heartbreaking for parents and caregivers of children with physical disabilities. All kids just want to be able to travel freely when at the playground. An old-school playground design is not one that is generally accessible. Gravel or wood chips are common ground surfacing, raised slides beyond the reach of caregivers, narrow paths, and inaccessible platforms all create barriers.
While keeping in mind that accessibility is not the same as inclusivity, there are some simple steps that can get you on the right path to meeting both of these playground fundamentals:
Playgrounds are an essential part of childhood. When all children get to play together, it helps everyone develop a better understanding of each other and we learn to appreciate and accept each other because of our differences and similarities. The benefit of exercise can be especially helpful for continued development of muscle tone and strength. All children benefit from accessible and inclusive playgrounds, and they all deserve the opportunity to play as unhindered as possible.
A developer’s priorities should include the unique needs of children, within the same play space. If the entire playground is accessible and inclusive then the whole community can benefit. Parents shouldn’t have to seek out accessible playgrounds. They just all should be accessible. We exclude a significant portion of our community when we do not plan playgrounds for all ages, and all abilities.