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What is an Inclusive Playground?

November 28th, 2018

Inclusive playgrounds are open and safe spaces, carefully designed to promote play among children of differing abilities, ages and communities. It gives children with and without any disability the same platform to play, while breaking down barriers, both physically and socially. The aim of inclusive play is to address the needs of the whole child.

Why Inclusive Playgrounds are Unique?

Inclusive playgrounds eliminate physical and social barriers so that every child can have fun, regardless of age or ability. Inclusive playgrounds offer an abundance of sensory experiences for all. The true inclusion offered by such playgrounds encourages children, adults and families to experience the benefits of playing together. The equipment and environment designed by MRC are backed by independent research and based on guidelines developed by leaders in the field of inclusive design.

What are the most common disabilities among children?

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Communication
  • Sensory
  • Social, emotional and behavioral

What are common challenges for kids with disabilities?

Difficulty in moving playing materials or areas.

Difficulty in manipulating play objects and spaces in a meaningful and constructive way.

Problem in engaging in the socio-dramatic play in the highest levels.

Not being able to think abstractly.

Trouble in making other kids and adults understand their physical and mental limitations.

Not being able to express their desire to play.

Not able to show if they disliked an activity.

What does outdoor play teach children?

Language Skills

Social Skills

Emotional Balance

Motor Skills

Symbolic Thinking

What are the benefits of inclusive play?

Provides open space for children with different abilities to play together.

Encourages engagement with peers of different capabilities.

Helps make friends.

Leads to mutual understanding.

Offers enjoyable and safe play environments.

What is a Universal Playground Design?

Inclusive playgrounds are mostly influenced by universal design, which is a framework for product, environment and building design. Including universal design in an inclusive playground ensures that the space is accessible, safe, comfortable and encourages social participation.

What are the seven principles of universal design?

  • Principle 1: Equitable Use
  • Principle 2: Flexibility in Use
  • Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use
  • Principle 4: Perceptible Information
  • Principle 5: Tolerance for Error
  • Principle 6: Low Physical Effort
  • Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use

What should be kept in mind during the construction of inclusive playgrounds?

Inclusive

The playground should have something for everyone, both for kids of all capabilities and their parents.

Accessible

Children with and without disability and parents can access the play space. 

Comfortable

The playground should be a combination of quiet and active play areas.

Engaging

Color, texture, sound and movement should engage children.

Fosters cognitive development

The playground should have age-appropriate equipment for spinning, sliding, swinging and rocking.

What are the steps to constructing inclusive playgrounds?

Step 1

Understanding the difference between "inclusive" and "accessible"

Step 2

Incorporating physical play, like monkey bars and swings.

Step 3

Adding sensory play elements, like swings and spinners to foster creativity and social skills.

Step 4

Incorporating communication skills, like musical games and activities that encourage hand-eye coordination.

Step 5

Adding social areas where kids can enjoy solitude and feel secure, physically and emotionally.

Step 6

Including lifts and ramps for elevated play.

Posted by Matt Miller

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