Time for an adventure: a new park that is inclusive of all children!
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
This quote from the wonderful world of Dr Seuss sums up how we believe play should be for all children, and of course as a parent you want your child to be able to access this in all aspects of their growing life. After all, play is so important to children’s development that it’s been recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. Yet there seems to still be a majority of public playgrounds are not inclusive to all, especially for those with disabilities.
With the school holidays coming up, going to the playground will almost certainly be on the agenda, so in this blog we have found a new exciting play space located on Sydney’s Northern Beaches that is designed to encompass the true meaning of inclusion in the community. And what we mean by this is, it’s one thing to provide a liberty swing for children in wheelchairs, but it’s not so inclusive when other kids can’t join in right? Going to the playground should be an experience the whole family can enjoy together, so playgrounds should ideally have play equipment and an environment that use a universal design catering for kids at all levels of development (and is fun!).
So what’s different about these playgrounds?
Five neighbourhood play spaces in Belrose have been transformed into one big, vibrant and inclusive sensory play network that all children can enjoy with their families. The designs rose out of a collaborative partnership with local artists, designers, engineers, early childhood educators, allied health professionals and council staff.
Each location takes inspiration from one of the five senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, movement) and has a character mascot to match. They are all focused on sensory play and are innovative in design. Some even featuring lavender, mint and passionfruit vines for children to explore, pick and crush and a sound area filled with instruments!
What’s so good about this park for my kiddo?
From having visited these parks, one of the best thing about them is that each of the five play spaces target identified developmental needs shared by all children, and they allow kids to make choices and decisions about how they play. For example, there is no expensive structured equipment – rather, children are encouraged to bring along their own fun items and make the play their own. Each child has the opportunity to equally participate and enjoy the cognitive, social and emotional benefits that only play can bring.
While you’re there, try these activities:
- Bring a bag for your child to collect leaves, and have them scrunch them up and tell you what they smell.. great for their smell and tactile senses!
- Bring a number of different sized balls to kick around, do canon ball kicks and walk outs to under the new spaces to work on that core strength!
- Take some your child’s favourite car toys to drive along the slats to work their fine motor skills and encourage playing races with others
- Bring a saucepan and spoons so you can pick the leaves and flowers from the planter boxes and make a “special concoction” to encourage sharing and imagination
- Help the plants while strengthening those fine motor muscles by brining little watering spray bottle to water the new plants
- The Lindrum Street park has a fabulous bike track and now has extra features that will help your child think of new play ideas and test their gross motor skills
- Explore their creative side with the chalk board, while encouraging writing and crossing midline skills
- Swing from the ropes installed there to get that proprioceptive input they may be craving!
As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless… the only thing left to do is go for a visit and let you and your child explore!
Where are these playgrounds?
The five inclusive playgrounds in Belrose are all within a short drive of each other:
A great way to spend a day is to visit each one to see how they all link together – think of it as an adventure! You can find out more about the Belrose Inclusive Play Spaces by following the link.
Want more information about the benefits of play? Check out one of our previous blog posts on The Importance of Park Play. And if you’re looking for more holiday activity ideas, check out our blog post on Top Summer Fun Activities (which has ideas that can be used year-round).
And if you would like support for your child with additional needs, get in contact with us by calling 9913 3823 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.