Just imagine, a world where we didn’t even talk about inclusion, because it happens naturally. There are no news stories that announce that the community is getting its first inclusive playground for children with ALL abilities. Because every playground that opens is designed with inclusion in mind and supports children of all ages and abilities. There are no “special needs” sections in playground catalogs because all equipment is designed to challenge all children. There are no special editions of playground magazines dedicated to inclusion; because they did all the hard work 10 years ago and have reached critical mass.
Everywhere I look I see inclusive playgrounds. Every playground has:
• A fence to protect children from running into danger
• A path around it or through it to enable children who need a little more time to adapt to a new situation
• A path to watch the action until children feel ready to enter the action
• New inclusive surfacing that keeps children safe from a very high fall level. It is smooth and easy to move a mobility device across. It looks great and is easy to maintain
• The equipment is designed to challenge children of varying ages and abilities so that they are all playing on the same piece of equipment. It reminds me of the equipment Playworld Systems developed in 2013 and early 2014, the Triumph Climber and the Unity Dome
• Varying levels of challenge. Children are learning to take risks and their parents are letting them. The playgrounds look so fun and the children are all having a great time together. No one is standing on the sidelines wishing they could participate
• Swings where a child can swing without leaving their wheelchair and still stay in the same play area as everyone else. My son is going to love it in 2024
But I need to wake up from that dream. It is still 2014 and we have a lot of work to do to get to this attainable dream world of 2024. So join with me for another year of learning about and advocating for inclusive playgrounds. It is time to start changing the world.
Happy New Year!