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.
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!
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A playground for everyone! We had a great time visiting an amazing accessible playground by @playlsi !! Read about our experience on the blog by using the link in my profile or visiting the article here and see if there’s one by you! #ad —> http://mamabananasadventures.com/2018/10/why-all-playgrounds-should-be-inclusive.html #ShapedByPlay #PlayLSI #OlliersDisease #OccupationalTherapy #pediatrics #momofboys #momblogger #momlife
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:
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?
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