Park 2

This blog is now one-year-old (is that a good enough excuse for cake?) We dreamt up its name in a sun-drenched outdoor pool after our experience with airport assistance. I wanted to share our experiences in an attempt to make people better understand life with a disabled child.

Sadly we don’t travel quite as often as I’d like but I think that is probably fairly typical with a young family. You may have spotted that the experiences I share are mainly much simpler; I feel like I write a lot about toilets and play parks.

While spending time in play parks with your children is a fairly typical experience of most parents I seem to have taken it to another level. Having spent the majority of this year fundraising for an accessible roundabout in our local park, I now seem to have a bit of expertise in the area. In the past year I’ve thought about equipment design, considered the benefits of play on child development and even discussed the economics of play parks for the wider community.

Hopefully I’ve managed not to suck all the enjoyment out of all the play parks we’ve visited for ‘research’. The kids are well aware they have to pose for photos before being allowed to actually play!

Photo of Quinns and his Big Sister enjoying an accessible roundabout with Dad pushing and a Changing Place toilet in the background.

There is absolutely no doubt that this photo makes me smile. I love that Quinns and his Big Sister can play together in this way. You can see in the background that the Changing Place toilet is there if we need it. Reassurance that we can stay in this park for as long as we want. It was the sort of park where a family could spend the whole day. I should be really happy. In that photo it would appear that all my ‘dreams’ had come true except that they had not.

The problem was that the roundabout stood alone. It was separate from any of the four large play areas. As a family we managed about fifteen minutes of fun before the spinning became too much. No other children came near us and there was nothing else for Quinns to play on unless you count the ramp to nowhere he could go up to get a better view of all that was off limits to him. He was pretty much excluded from everything.

Photo of Quinns being joined by a friend on an accessible roundabout

On that same trip we also visited another park. This time we met up with friends who had children of similar ages to Quinns and Big Sister. The park itself had at least three areas with play equipment. There were accessible roundabouts in two of them and high backed swings in two. We were able to play in one area for a while, go for a walk while enjoying an ice cream and then play together in a different area of the park. It’s a really simple thing but for every park there needs to be something that Quinns can access with and at the same time as his friends.

This park was exceptional but while it was definitely better than our previous experiences I must admit I’d like to expect more. I said in my blog, Park life last year that I’d love to see an accessible roundabout in every park. It is still my dream that every park should have an accessible roundabout.

I now want to extend my vision. While every park including even the smallest play area should have an accessible roundabout every large park should have a range of equipment or even just more thought for children in wheelchairs and how they can be included in the play.

From our own experience wheelchair accessible surfaces are a must. Paths, roads, bumps and tunnels would be simple to do but add a lot of fun for wheels. A simple table for sand or water play would bring these play elements and more to their level. Table style musical instruments, so that friends can look each other in the eye as they play together, would be much better than sitting sideways on to a vertical board.

What I’m suggesting doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive just considered. Every child has a right to play and we should be making that happen.

 

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