The best playgrounds give everyone a chance to learn and have fun in the great outdoors. However, children with special needs often have a hard time navigating parks and playgrounds. By making a few changes to your existing playground, you can create an inclusive environment that supports children of all ages and abilities.
Rather than building a new playground from scratch, you can make your existing playground inclusive with a few updates. You’ll be able to save time and money while providing an improved playground design for your community. Below you’ll find some tips on how to make your current playground more inclusive.
Install Modified Swings
Traditional tot, bucket or belt seats don’t provide enough support for children with physical disabilities. Fortunately, it’s easy to add inclusive swings to your playground. There are a few types of swings you can choose from – freestanding saucer type swings, or adaptive swing seats that feature back support and or a harness allowing kids with special needs to swing right next to their peers.
Include More Ground-Level Activities
Adding ground-level activities is another cost-effective way to make your playground more inclusive. You can accomplish this with ropes, play activity panels, musical instruments, merry-go-alls and other sensory play items. This type of equipment is easy to access, making your playground inviting for children of all abilities, even those in mobility devices. These type of play events provide opportunities for parallel play and allow for a truly inclusive play experience.
Create Wide Even Spaces
Uneven surfaces and tight spaces are difficult for children or caregivers with mobility devices to navigate. To ensure your playground is inclusive, make sure to keep areas wide and surfaces flat. To achieve this, you may need to replace the type of safety surfacing or spread out the playground equipment providing accessible entry points. While this will be an investment, it’s still cheaper than building a new playground. While doing this you can use this time to add more ground-level equipment or sensory play items to create a more inclusive space as well.
Consider Other Modified Equipment
Aside from swings, there are other types of modified playground equipment you might want to add to your park. Extra-wide slides, inclusive playground structures with accessible ramps, sensory panels, inclusive gliders, playhouses and more are all ideas worth considering. We also recommend brightly colored equipment because this helps children with vision problems see the equipment from a distance.
Add Park Amenities for Parents and Caregivers
Aside from inclusive playground equipment, give some attention to the furnishings and amenities your park offers. Parents appreciate having comfortable places to sit and watch their children learn, play and engage with others. Essentials include shade structures to keep cool, accessible bathrooms, trash receptacles and smooth playground surfacing.
Cunningham Recreation can help turn your existing playground into a more inviting, welcoming and inclusive environment for children of all ages and abilities. Contact us today to learn more about inclusive playgrounds and how to achieve one using your current playground equipment.