Play for all: Accessible playgrounds make childhood more inclusive

Playing in a park, going on swings and slides – these are things that almost every child in the western world experiences during their childhood. Playgrounds are an essential part of how children are raised and taught to socialize. Unfortunately, not every child can always access their local playground. And yet, children who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, who have developmental disorders such as autism, or who have other disabilities still desire to play among their peers on the playground.

In recent decades, many have recognized the need for children with disabilities to have accessible playgrounds. Special Education Degrees has created a list of thirty of the best accessible playgrounds worldwide. The full list can be found here. The playgrounds on it prove that not only is it possible to construct accessible playgrounds for children with disabilities, but that the playgrounds can be works of art and areas where all children can find joy.

Playgrounds on the list include A Dream Come True playground in Virginia, which was created after a Girl Scout troop spent almost a decade raising $1.4 million to realize their dream of a playground for everyone. Also on the list is castle-themed Steward Vincent Wolfe Creative Playground in Arizona, which took the work of 8,000 volunteers and design ideas from 5,000 school kids to build, and Lake Macquarie Variety Playground in Australia, which was commissioned by the local city council and covers almost 5 acres of land.

Readers, are there accessible playgrounds in your neighborhood? How could your local playgrounds be modified to be more accessible and more inclusive for all kids?

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.