To describe an inclusive playground, let's look at the key component of the term:
The simple definition of inclusive, according to Merriam-Webster:
: covering or including everything
: open to everyone : not limited to certain people
: including the stated limits and everything in between
With inclusive playgrounds, the objective is to include everyone. They are thoughtfully designed to provide a safe place where children of all abilities can play together, and are developmentally appropriate for children with and without disabilities.
An inclusive playground takes away the barriers to exclusion, both physical and social, providing a “sensory rich” experience for all.
An inclusive playground focuses on the following components to ensure a positive, engaging experience for all children:
Physical Accommodations - Accommodating physical disabilities is one component of an inclusive playground. This includes meeting ADA requirements by providing a wheelchair accessible route and ramps/transfer points. Customized equipment such as special swings allow all kids to enjoy the playground as it is meant to be enjoyed.
Engaging – Inclusive playgrounds provide a number of different opportunities for children to explore. They integrate all the senses and encourages social play. There is a little something for everyone including those that like to climb, run, spin, slide, swing and more.
Integrated – A true inclusive playground doesn’t mean that there is special equipment in a separate area off to the side, but rather a space designed as a cohesive community where play opportunities are integrated throughout. This is important for social development.
Promote Inclusion – Just as the name suggests, inclusive playgrounds have another mission that goes beyond the physical accommodations and specialized equipment. These playgrounds do so much for the community. They educate and bring families and people together. They stress the importance of inclusion in every day activities, no matter the ability level. They prove that kids of all abilities enjoy exploring, learning, interacting and having fun together. They stress compassion and, well, inclusion of those that are different from you. That's a lesson that benefits us all.
If you'd like to learn more about Inclusive Playgrounds or discuss designing one in your community, feel free to contact us today.