But only for the lucky ones. Does your local playground do enough to welcome children with a disability?
Every day children are born, who through absolutely no fault of their own have or acquire a disability that sets them apart from the able-bodied majority. This is an unfortunate reality that children with a disability and their families/care-givers have to deal with on a daily basis, and for the rest of their lives. Coping with additional needs and different abilities requires courage, strength, resilience and most of all, love. Parents and families with a child with a disability fight for every ounce of equality and access, but does society help, ignore or hinder them?
When it comes to the physical and social benefits of outdoor exercise/play, children with a disability benefit as much, if not more than able-bodied kids! So municipal playgrounds should cater for the entire community regardless of ability, right? Unfortunately this is often not the case, as you will see from our local example.
Our community in Radyr has been campaigning for several years now to have our local playground refurbished, as it has been neglected and falling into disrepair for over a decade. Finally, this year Cardiff Council have agreed to bring in some renovations, and the proposed new playground layout is pictured below:
For me, the first thing that stands out is the lack of any attempt to cater for the needs of children with a disability. Where is any thought to facilitating play and exercise for those less able, perhaps in a wheelchair? Cardiff Council are definitely missing a trick with this renovation - much inclusive equipment made by Kompan, their chosen manufacturer, does exist to allow all children and adults with a disability to enjoy the benefits of physical activity outdoors like any other member of the community.
As our experts, Joshua Reeves and Margaret Manton-Edwards tell us, it is essential that children have access to inclusive recreational equipment....
“It is hugely important for children's social development to have inclusive playground equipment that does not segregate and promotes inclusion. For kids to lead a healthy lifestyle they need to move as much as possible. Being active for at least 60 minutes each day helps keep their hearts healthy and their bones strong – and if they have additional needs, this is just as important.The benefits of physical activity are universal for all children, including those with disabilities. The participation of children with disabilities in recreational activities promotes inclusion (…) and enhances overall well-being. Despite these benefits, children with disabilities are more restricted in their participation, have lower levels of fitness, and have higher levels of obesity than their peers without disabilities. (…). When planning new play areas it is vitally important to have equipment accessible to all children to help increase activity levels and benefit from all the advantages full social inclusion brings.”
Find out more:
Pediatrics (2008) VOLUME 121 / ISSUE 5 Promoting the Participation of Children With Disabilities in Sports, Recreation, and Physical Activities, Nancy A. Murphy, Paul S. Carbone
Disabled Sports Activities | Activities - Change4Life | For kids to lead a healthy lifestyle they need to move as much as possible – and if they have additional needs, this is just as important.
“To have inclusive equipment in playgrounds, in schools, and parks is very important for any child. Growing up with a disability, I was limited accessing certain areas of the playgrounds, it was hard and it sometimes led to isolation. This shouldn’t happen to any child growing up, especially being left out because most of the equipment is not accessible. The people that are building playgrounds need to look at what equipment they can provide for everyone to join in the fun.”
Find out more:
Obviously, Exercise for All will ask for more consideration by Cardiff Council of the needs of people with a disability. Exercise for All means exercise for every member of our community, regardless of ability. We have already fed back our objections to the Radyr Park Regeneration group and hope this will lead to improvements. We’ll let you know how things pan out as the renovation is carried out.