Take a minute to ask yourself what you remember the most about going to the playground as a child and then imagine how difficult that may be for a child with a disability. Many children throughout the nation and even in our own town are not able to access the childhood right of play. One of our largest projects, and something that we are wildly passionate about obtaining for our amazing community of Spearfish, SD is the addition of an all-inclusive playground. Many may wonder what ‘all-inclusive’ means and may even go to the depths of saying that our playgrounds are handicap friendly. Through personal experience our family found that Kenadi’s wheelchair could not move through the loose wood chips or unstable recycled tires; there were no swings to support her hypotonic body resulting in the only option being to hold her in our lap; with a sensitivity to heat there were many days that the equipment was too warm and no shade protection resulted in not being able to participate; playing in the sand box meant getting Kenadi out of her wheelchair to be able to play with other kids and having to support her whole body – something that would have been unmanageable had she gotten any bigger; and none of the playland structures supported the use of a wheelchair for kids to play side-by-side. All-inclusive playgrounds are being adopted into communities all over the world. They are a thing of the future … they are a thing of the now … and it is our goal to bring it into our community for children of all abilities to live, love, and laugh … side-by-side.
Through Shane’s Inspiration, they have developed an understanding of inclusive play that we fully support.
An all-inclusive playground is designed to create play environments that serve the physical, social, sensory, cognitive, and emotional needs of children of all abilities in a community. It is a movement striving to develop ongoing and sustainable inclusive play experiences that meet the widest range of users and abilities in the same setting. It combines universal accessibility with thoughtfully-supported social interaction between children with and without disabilities through play. They are most successful when they utilize universal design to achieve highly-diverse physical accessibility with playful solutions that are developmentally appropriate for many different levels of need, and is done so in an engaging, sensory-rich environment. Inclusive play uses a “people-centered” approach to develop awareness and involvement of the community through the creation of inclusive play environments, on-going inclusive play experiences, and engaging educational programs. Inclusive play catalyzes social evolution through the development of understanding, acceptance, and the building of common ground between children of all abilities.