Variety is the name of the game when choosing pieces of equipment for an inclusive playground. Versatile equipment that offers multiple ways to play and experiences will likely be used most often by children of different ages and abilities.
When selecting inclusive playground equipment, ask yourself:
- Can one child play on the equipment by him/herself?
- Can a group play together?
- Can children lay down on it? Can children sit on it? Can children stand on it? (A child should be able to be positioned on the equipment in their favorite posture)
- Can adults also participate?
- Can a person using a wheelchair participate?
- Does it provide a variety of physical play experiences? How about sensory and social experiences?
A misconception is that many pieces of equipment are needed to meet diverse needs. That is not always the case. For example, Playworld Systems, Vaquero is unique because you can answer yes, to all of the above questions. The Vaquero engages a 12-year-old as much as a 5-year-old. Children with a wide range of physical abilities can enjoy and benefit from playing on Vaquero.
The Vaquero helps stimulate the vestibular system, which contributes to balance and spatial orientation, by swaying and rocking. Children work on their balancing skills as they stand or sit. A child using a wheelchair can control how fast he or she moves by pulling the ropes. That child is now in the middle of the play action, in fact they are the leader. A child sitting with their legs through the holes can push the equipment with their legs.
There are many different ways to utilize the equipment. You can lay on it. You can sit on it. You can even stand up on it. The handles provide support to help maintain position.
Children make up all kinds of games while playing on the Vaquero. For example, with everyone standing on it and one person pulling the ropes—the goal is to be the last one standing while everyone gets to work on their balancing skills.
The Vaquero captures children’s imaginations. The equipment is quickly transformed in a child’s imagination into a space ship or a large animal riding through the fields. Which equipment at your playground offers the most opportunity for inclusive play?