The best playgrounds are the ones where all children can play and interact together. Every child should have equal access to parks regardless of their age or ability. When you create the perfect playground, you’ll see all kids playing together and joining in the fun - even parents and grandparents will have opportunities to interact with their children and grandchildren!
Considering that about one in six, or 17 percent, of children ages 3 through 17 have one or more developmental delays, inclusivity is important. So how can you go about designing a custom playground for all abilities? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Plan for Wide, Accessible Walkways
To ensure safe access to your playground, you’ll need smooth surfacing that accommodates children and adults with mobility devices. Playground safety surfacing protects children from falls, but it also makes it easier to get around and navigate the play space. We recommend poured-in-place rubber surfacing or rubber tiles because they are smooth and uniform.
In addition to safety surfacing, your playground design should also eliminate barriers to play, meaning that it’s accessible to all kids. Ramped play structures with wide decks make it easier to maneuver, and your restrooms, parking lots and pathways should be accessible to everyone.
Roll Out a Diverse Assortment of Equipment
A custom playground gives you the freedom to choose the elements and equipment you want, but it’s still important to have the essentials. The best inclusive custom playgrounds include graduated levels of play, cozy spots to relax, climbing structures and ample seating with shade.
If your budget allows, you can enhance your custom playground with musical instruments, water play, expression swings, spinning seats, ropes and nets, climbing structures and more. With a variety of play components, your custom playground can not only accommodate children of all abilities but it will encourage side-by-side play, peer interaction and healthy risk taking.
Engage the Senses Through Sensory Play
Sensory play involves any activity that engages the five senses. Traditional playgrounds focus on large motor skills, but modern playgrounds offer so much more! They provide opportunities for children to use all of their senses through musical instruments, sand and water play, freestanding sensory panels and more.
Custom playgrounds tend to feature several areas of freestanding play to accommodate children who may not want to run around and socialize. These areas allow for quiet moments of play, and they provide opportunities for children to interact with parents or teachers. Freestanding areas also promote creativity through music, art and role play.
Leverage Natural Elements
When it comes to custom playgrounds, you have the freedom to utilize the natural elements in and around your space. Trees can shade your area and slopes can often accommodate a hillside slide. Man-made elements of GFRC, like rockscapes and boulders, can be climbed on and tree stumps and fallen logs can be used for seating. These elements make playgrounds more interesting and unique while creating a stimulating play environment. If your playground doesn’t have its own nature, bring elements of nature to the playground through custom design options.
At Cunningham Recreation, we offer high quality, durable playground equipment for kids of all ages and abilities to enjoy. We take pride in finding inclusive solutions for our clients whether they are building a large park with several structures or a small playground in an urban setting. Let us work with you to design and build a custom playground that caters to everyone in your community!