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Why All Playgrounds Should Be Inclusive

Why All Playgrounds Should Be Inclusive

As an Occupational Therapist, the idea of inclusive playgrounds is not a new concept to me. I remember learning about the benefits of an Occupational Therapist’s role in inclusive playground design way back in OT school. However, needing an accessible playground for my son has been an entirely new journey. Accessible playgrounds welcome as many people as possible from the ground to the top of the tallest slide. From the material under your feet to the play structure colors, inclusive playgrounds simply aim to include everyone. In the process, these playgrounds create amazing play spaces for both children facing obstacles and even the able-bodied children who visit them.

We visited Everybody’s Playground in Horsham PA and the experience was nothing short of amazing.

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

My 6-year-old son has Ollier’s Disease. The largest bone tumor in his left thigh bone has already had several surgeries including one earlier in the year to lengthen and straighten the bone with an external fixator. After that was removed he had a huge cast on from his hip down to his toes and now has a Hip-Knee-Ankle-Foot-Orthotic (HKAFO) brace. That’s a mouthful right?

What does this mean for him functionally? His walking isn’t great so he uses a wheelchair for distances and to take standing breaks. He does walk short distances and kind of run-hops to pick up speed. However, his leg tired and sore easily so he goes back and forth between walking and wheelchair on the playground. You should see the look on people’s faces when they first see him unbuckle his seatbelt and get up out of his wheelchair. I think there is a common misconception that if you use a wheelchair you don’t walk at all…when in fact they’re great for people of all different types of walking abilities.

Benefits of Landscape Structures inclusive playgrounds

One of the most noticeable things on a playground to wheelchair users is the ground. Yes, simply the ground. Have you ever tried to push a wheelchair over mulch or rocks? I have. The chair roll well, get stuck and the chair itself gets dirty. I don’t know if you are familiar with wheelchairs, but the chair my son has is a custom built chair to fit his needs that retails for over 2,000. Not something I want to dirt caked in the wheels, scratched or damaged.

The ground at Everybody’s Playground, a landscape structures inclusive playground, is nothing short of amazing. Not only could my son roll his own wheelchair with easy but the other parents there with strollers were rolling around with ease too! Also, no one leaves this playground dirty! As a Mom to 4 boys, that’s something I love. My 4-year-old was laying under the ramps and bridges here, log-rolling on the ground and left without any dirt on him. At a playground with a dirt floor…I quite literally would have to undress him before getting in the car with all that scooting on the ground. I’ve had to do it before and it’s not fun.

In addition to the great material on the ground, the Everybody’s Playground structure has a maze of ramps! I loved seeing my son play tag on these ramps with his brothers. The angle is perfect: He could easily roll up the ramps and down without picking up too much speed. He also could get out of his chair and go down slides and structures without having to climb a steep rock wall or ladder.

There were also two bridges that I tested the wheelchair across, without my son in it, and it seemed to roll safely…but he has managed to tip his wheelchair forward on other occasions…and I didn’t want to let him have a go at it with his leg’s fragile state.

The openings here also have pieces of plastic blocking a chair from rolling off of the strucutre, but have a wide enough space to allow a child to pass through. I love this safety feature because my son is an enthusiastic wheelchair roller…he does loops, likes to go fast and have fun!

Kids of all abilities love landscape structures inclusive playgrounds!

I looked for other children with walking difficulties like my son however, on this day at Everybody’s Playground I didn’t see any. I want a megaphone to let everyone know that this structure exists! However, I did notice a large group of children having an amazing time. Simply, kids love ramps! Accessibility isn’t just for the “disabled” but it makes the playground more fun for everyone, including parents! Toddlers learning to walk don’t have to worry about navigating steps and the design encourages fluid movement and imaginative play. There are even opportunities to stop and learn! My 7 year old loved the Learning Braille clock.

Everybody’s Playground Landscape Structure has thought of everything, including sensory skills. There is a slide that looks like something you could use to roll packages in a shipping department that gives kids a gentle bumpy sensory experience. My boys all went down saying “ahhhhhhh” that came out shaky on the slide with giant smiles on their faces. There was a mirror and a boat that my son could roll onto with his wheelchair and rock back and forth. I didn’t get a shot of this because I was tasked with rocking a boat full of kids who laughed and had a great time.

Enough talking! Take a look below and visit landscape structures website to learn more about these amazing play experience structures:

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

everybody's playground accessible inclusive playground

everybody's playground landscape structures

everybody's playground landscape strctures

The drive home was also amazing

This Landscape Structures playground is amazing. That’s all we kept repeating “this is amazing!” Everything has been thought of and no space has been spared. There is a great amount of room, Everybody’s Playground notes that it’s been funded by the Rotary Club of Horsham and to be honest, I’d love to have the opportunity to shake the hand of each and every person involved in this! My Mom and I talked the whole way home about finding our local rotary club and talking them into funding something as amazing as this nearby. Our area could use it!

You can learn more about Everybody’s Playground by visiting their website.

What do you think? Have you visited a playground like this?

(Pinterest image below)

 

 

 

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Jeanette
Guest

Definitely agree with you. Kids are kids whether they are in wheelchairs or not. They all want to play on the playground. I really like this post.

Candy
Guest
Candy

I thought all playgrounds were supposed to be all-inclusive. Unfortunately, I see many who aren’t. I hope they get a great company to re-do them like this!

Melissa Chapman
Guest

That playground is a real find and any kId with any ability would enjoy the exercise. We took our son to a playground and it was such a fun time.

Jen Walshaw
Guest

I totally agree with you – it would be better for ALL children and parents for these places to be inclusive What a fab post

Amber Myers
Guest

Yes, I so agree with this. All kids should be able to get and play on a playground. I hope more playgrounds become like this one.

lisa martin
Guest

What an awesome playground. I completely agree with you, playgrounds need to be more inclusive.

Terri Steffes
Guest

I’m definitely a believe that playgrounds and other social public places should be inclusive. Thanks for shedding light on this issue.

Tonia Sanders
Guest

I agree playgrounds should be for all kids to play together. People assume kids with difficulties are fine on separate grounds and that’s just dumb. We all want to be included.

Tasheena
Guest

I really enjoyed reading this post. I agree, that all playgrounds should be inclusive. I hope that all playgrounds that are not, will be redone.

Jaime Nicole
Guest

I TOTALLY agree with this. All children deserve a chance to play and have a facility that meets their needs. Bravo on this post mama!

chubskulit rose
Guest

I like it when parks cater for all types of kids including the ones that uses wheelchair. One of our parks here is designed like that too.

Ricci
Guest

I agree that all playgrounds should be all inclusive and I hope that all playgrounds int eh future are built this way! Great post!

KIM CROISANT
Guest
KIM CROISANT

I live near a playground just like this. It’s definitely worth checking out, but sadly not too many people know it’s there and that they can play there. You really gave some good points here.

Jeanine
Guest
Jeanine

I completely agree. It’s sad that Ive never really seen a park that is inclusive before and also that I’ve never really thought about it.

Aaronica
Guest

Yes to all this. I’m so happy that this place exists while all other playgrounds get on board!

Dhemz
Guest

Unfortunately I see most playgrounds aren’t inclusive especially in our area. I agree with you on this one. Thanks for sharing

Sara Welch
Guest

I like seeing playgrounds that special needs children can play on. They have energy to burn off too!

Kita Bryant
Guest

I could not agree more. Seeing joy on any kids face is worth it.

Louisa
Guest

I never really thought about it. So thanks for bringing attention to the fact that not all playgrounds are all-inclusive. Glad to see that the ride home was also amazing.

Melissa
Guest

I agree with you 100%. I wish that ALL playgrounds were inclusive. Thanks so much for sharing. Hopefully one day they will be.