I spotted a poster on our village notice board a few weeks ago for a consultation event about a new children’s playground for the village, and (being both a mum and an architect!) I couldn’t stop myself from going along and to see what it was all about!
It was a really well attended event and exciting to see lots of families engaging with the ideas being displayed! Lots of drawing and children and parents filling out comments forms.
The proposals all catered for a large age range (toddler to 12ish years old) and all of them had fun suggestions. I don’t think I really favoured any one particularly over the others – there were similarities and differences that made them all interesting in different ways.
Our request was (surprise surprise!) for the final design to consider inclusive play and equipment as much as possible!
I am passionate about EJ being able to join in activities with her friends and siblings (in her own way). However, I think it’s also so valuable for all children to have the opportunity to meet and interact with children with differences, because the more they do, the less ‘different’ disability becomes.
It would be fantastic if more playgrounds featured inclusive activities and equipment, that everyone can use. This approach is not just about enabling children with additional needs, but also allowing siblings and friends of varying ages, and even mum or dad to join in, and play together. Inclusive play also often equates to more imaginative play, as children find new ways to use equipment and join in with activities.
Playgrounds are really important to all children’s development (balance, body awarenes etc) but for children like EJ with sensory processing disorder, vestibular stimulation (things like swinging, spinning around, bouncing) is particularly important – it’s all fun therapy and learning!
I’m always on the lookout for places that EJ can join in with her brother and cousins. I have a list of our favourite playground equipment on pinterest, that I try to spot when we are out and about and passing new places, and I’m also starting to gather ideas on my pinterest boards for fun (and lots of sensory) things to do in our own garden (some are more achievable than others! – unless I get Alan Titchmarsh’s team to come and sort us out!).
In the playground, we love:
- Swinging – who doesn’t love a swing! EJ is too tall now for a toddler swing so we particularly like the big basket type that she can lie in safely.
- Spinning – there are lots of cool accessible roundabouts on the market now which are flush with the ground and that you can push a pram/buggy/wheelchair onto.
- Bouncing – trampolines, rope bridges, nets (again, fun for everyone!)
- Textures – EJ loves the feel of sand!
- Scrambling – Things to crawl over and scramble about on (like mounds and tunnels)
My favourite new idea from the day was adding a saftey net below a rope pyramid climbing frame which EJ could lie or sit on and would be able to feel the bouncing and vibrations from other children climbing on the ropes – she would love that!
Meanwhile, 16 month old EW spend most his time monopolizing the little slide, so I guess he was trying to tell us his preferences lie there!