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What to consider when designing and building an inclusive playground

The ideal playground is designed with the intent for all children, able-bodied or disabled, to play and enjoy their youth. No matter the child’s circumstances, they should have equal opportunity when attending their local park. The most desired parks provide an array of options that give the visitor the ability to choose the experience most suited for them. Parents should feel safe and comfortable when allowing their children to participate in different play activities. The best parks are the ones where children are constantly requesting to go back. We want to help you build your ideal park! 

By leveraging our cross-division synergy, we are able to provide parks departments with the necessary resources to design and build inclusive playgrounds. Below you will find some of our recommended tips for when beginning your next playground project. 

What is an inclusive playground?

An inclusive playground provides a sensory-rich environment designed for all children to develop socially, physically, and emotionally that is easily accessible. They are carefully designed to provide a safe place for children with and without disabilities to come together and play. A true inclusive playground goes beyond the minimum playground requirements to create a truly unique play environment. Communities are diverse. Playgrounds should be too. 

Some components to consider when building an inclusive playground include:

  • Easy access to the playground
  • Select inclusive play equipment
  • Include sensory play elements
  • Provide social areas for all

Provide Easy Access to the playground

When designing a playground with multiple access points, the builder can provide various ways for visitors to enter the playground. An inclusive playground should be easily accessible for all children and parents. One addition would be the construction of ramps. Ramps allow for inclusive mobility into the playground. The surrounding parking lot should include ADA compliant ramps and sidewalks to further create access.

Select inclusive Play Equipment

When selecting the play equipment that will be installed, it is important to consider children with disabilities. For example, swing systems could feature swings that include harnesses,  wheelchair platforms, etc. Selecting ground-level activities is another way to help those who may not be able to climb onto play equipment. By ensuring the playground has play equipment that can be used by all,  more visitors can visit your park.  

Include sensory play elements

Sensory-rich playgrounds allow children of all abilities to integrate and develop their senses. Children on the Autism Spectrum or with Sensory Processing Disorders often prefer sensory stimulation as it allows them to explore and discover their world in an interactive way. When a child is engaged with sensory play, they are working towards enhancing their cognitive and motor skills, stimulating their creativity, and developing social skills. The more they play, the more they develop skills necessary to engage, change and impact the world around them.

Provide social areas for all

Is it important to include both individual and group play settings within the equipment. Not all children enjoy or want to play in large groups everyday so it important to give them choices. Including safe spaces can provide children areas for sensory relief. Equally important is the aspect of a playground that offers children the space to interact and play with one another. Play structures that incorporate both of the recommendations above can provide great balance for visitors. 

Get Started by speaking with a Byrne & Jones Playground Expert

If you are interested in learning more about designing and building an inclusive playground you can reach out to us at (314) 254-9766 and ask to speak with a playground expert. We will break down the entire process for you and help you choose the best equipment for your project. Make the world a better place by building inclusive play environments for children and let us help you along the way. 

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