Some of our fondest memories often occur as kids running around, sliding down slides, and interacting with other children in the playground, and what an amazing memory it is too.
However, not all children may possess the same physical or cognitive ability required to participate in many of the conventional style playgrounds we currently have located around Canada. It is important we take note of this fact, all the while realizing why we must take steps in the right direction to correct this.
Below we will look into some core aspects surrounding the importance of making playgrounds more inclusive for all abilities, and why Canada needs to implement changes towards this goal.
What Makes Playgrounds So Good For Kids?
Playgrounds are a haven of vital importance for children’s growth in many key areas. While having lots of fun playing in them, they simultaneously progress massively in developing many important abilities.
Some vital areas children get to improve in when participating in playgrounds include the following;
Kids get to experience confronting a wide array of emotions that come up while taking part in playground activities. Giving them a safe place to learn how to approach these emotions. Not only this but practicing what actions they can take to respond to these emotional inputs and the real-life reactions they get as a result.
The busy hustle and bustle of social interaction that occurs at playgrounds is a fertile breeding ground for children to learn about social cues and how to interact with fellow humans. Allowing them space to develop their personal boundaries, morals, and values while learning that others may possess differing ones.
Playgrounds provide an abundance of interactive stimulation for the child to flex their cognitive muscles in a fun environment. Challenging obstacles and equipment allow them to utilize their logical reasoning to discern different manners in which they can tackle the challenges presented.
Being outdoors, in the natural elements, and moving around is undoubtedly proven to be good for children’s overall health, wellbeing and stress levels. All aspects are correlated with boosting a healthy immune system.
Some other fantastic benefits children may experience when participating in playgrounds that we didn’t expand upon are a boosted level of self-esteem and collaboration skills.
How Are Children With Disabilities Sometimes Excluded From Participating?
We have taken a brief look into how imperative it is for kids to be able to participate in the amazing learning and growth that comes from participating in playground activities. However, in many playgrounds in Canada, it may be difficult for all children to join in on such fantastic opportunities for development as they are often not adapted to children of all abilities.
Some Limiting Factors to Inclusive Participation;
- Physical accessibility
- Safety concerns utilizing equipment
- Excessively cognitively challenging
What Impact Might This Have On Them?
Excluding a child from partaking in playground activities merely based on their disability can have a profound impact on the child and how they perceive themselves going forward. It can leave them confused and feeling a whole host of unpleasant emotions as to why they are being left out, unsure as to why this is being done to them.
Some negative impacts associated with exclusion from activities such as playgrounds are as follows;
- Feelings of shame and guilt around a trait they can’t change
- Encompassing the false belief that they aren’t normal
- Stunts developmental learning that occurs at playgrounds
- Possibility of being outcast by their group
What Can Be Done To Change This?
Luckily, there are already some amazing, affordable solutions to create more inclusive and accessible playgrounds for all levels of ability that we have access to as we speak.
These are a budget-friendly style of swing seats that include locking harnesses, higher back support, and armrests making them accessible and safe for all.
Focus on engaging the senses
Implementing equipment that includes auditory, visual, and tactile features makes for a great inclusive solution for all.
Install all-inclusive merry-go-round
Inclusive merry-go-rounds are a terrific piece of equipment that allows all levels of abilities to take part in the fun activities at playgrounds.
Create cozy spaces
Providing small nooks and crannies. This is an excellent place for children to have a social gathering around them, to take refuge and observe before deciding to take part or to create some sensory relief from everything that occurs in playgrounds.