This post about Inclusive Playgrounds was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
It goes without saying that children with disabilities or special needs are constantly reminded that they “don’t belong.” From an autistic child not being able to go to the movie theater because the volume is too loud to a disabled child who lives in a community that has very few wheelchair ramps. Not being able to freely interact with other kids can mean
Thankfully, many thoughtful educators are now pushing for “inclusive classrooms,” which means that all students participate in most of the mainstream classroom activities. They know that it is important for both the student without challenges and the one with challenges, to be able to do things together. Just as it is important for students to learn to work together in the classroom, something special happens to a community when they build an inclusive playground.
What Is An Inclusive Playground?
For those that do not know, an inclusive playground is what it sounds like: it is for everybody. That doesn’t mean in the traditional “for all ages” as much as it means “for all abilities.” The May Recreation website defines inclusive playgrounds as, “playgrounds that are thoughtfully designed to provide a safe place where children of all abilities can play together and are developmentally appropriate for children with and without disabilities.”
Most inclusive playgrounds have equipment that can be used by children in wheelchairs, children with vision impairments, and usually provide a “sensory-rich” experience for all. I think it is important for children to play with children of differing abilities, and see that they may not be much different than themselves afterall.
As a mom of 4 kids, two of which have sensory issues and non-food-induced ADHD, it’s important to me that they get the same advantages in life as average kids. That’s why I think it’s important for more people to be aware of sensory issues because they are more common than you think, especially among children with special needs such as those with autism.
October is Sensory Awareness Month
Did you know that October is “Sensory Awareness Month”? Kids with sensory issues or Sensory Processing Disorder may appear normal to most people, unlike children with autism that generally are easier to identify. While it may be easier to spot a child with autism, the truth is that kids with sensory issues have a lot of the same struggles. While there is a lot more to be said about SPD and similar issues, these kids need special consideration as well since they too have trouble doing simple tasks like tying their shoes, eating, standing in line, or getting dressed by themselves.
We found he gets overwhelmed at most playgrounds because of the noise and his inability to use most of the playground equipment. It made him frustrated that many of the things to do at our local playground were too difficult for him to do, which of course leads to bullying. We stopped bringing him to the playground altogether until we found out about Landscape Structures Inclusive Playgrounds.
Why We Love Inclusive Playgrounds
Having a playground that is “just for him” is amazing. We found Lionel “Sonny” Charpentier Playground at Fournier Park in Leominster, MA was perfect for him! All the playground equipment challenged his need for stimulation without overstimulating him or making him feel overwhelmed. I’ve never seen him so happy!
My son (and my three other children) enjoyed themselves so much. It was great to see that all of them could enjoy the playground equipment together. We met a couple of new friends, which was great for my children to experience. My daughter said, “Hey, I didn’t know a boy in a wheelchair could pull himself up so well!” It was definitely a day full of fun and “teachable moments.”
Everyone had so much fun at the playground, but my 4
Another great and unique part of this particular inclusive playground was the large swing for a child with special needs. My
A Sensory-Rich Experience For All
I also thought it was really unique and special to see the braille clocks and alphabet at this playground. We already do ASL and Baby Sign Language with my youngest and we have deaf friends, so it was interesting for my children to learn
The slides were great for full-body stimulation and were all of the kids favorite part of the playground. Our 18 month old little guy loved going down the slide as much as my 11 year old did.
The kid’s favorite slide was the triple slide that three of them could go down at the same time. They got such a kick out of that, they kept doing it over and over again and trying to all slide down at the same time.
“1, 2, 3, GO!” they all yelled!
I want my kids to know that being different is not a bad thing and I feel like they can when they find children of different ages and abilities at Inclusive Playgrounds
Learn More About Inclusive Playgrounds
I love that Landscape Structures Inclusive Playgrounds are made specifically so that all kids can learn and play together, regardless of age or ability. Here is a small taste of the fun that can be had at an inclusive playground…
We are so blessed to live near a Landscape Structures Inclusive Playground so we can visit it often. Our kids always have so much fun and I think yours will too!
Visit www.PlayLSI.com to find an inclusive playground near you!
I think it is our job to make sure our communities have these types of inclusive playgrounds available so kids of all ages and abilities can enjoy playing together. They are so much better off playing outside at a playground with other children than stuck at home playing video games.
If you can’t find an inclusive playground within driving distance of your home, you can start a community petition, ask your local government, or start a facebook page to get attention to fund an inclusive playground for