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How Children's Playground Play is Being Transformed

At the neighborhood playground, community is created. The main problem with this is that a certain group has been left out of this which is children disabilities. This group makes up about 19% of the population in the United States. Two families change this and transformed playground play.

Shane’s Inspiration and Jonathan's Dream

Amy Barzach, in 1996 opened the first playground that was accessible to disabled people called Jonathan’s Dream in West Hartford. In Los Angeles in 1998, Tiffany Harris, Scott Williams, and Catherine Curry-Williams formed Shane’s Inspiration a non-profit organization. This resulted in the first playground in the Western United States that was fully accessible for disabled people. Families that had disabled children are not able to take them to playgrounds. When Shane’s Inspiration opened, the children that went there were on equal footing with all the other children and were accepted as who they are which was very inspiring.

Since then, more than 50 I've been created Shane's Inspiration organization. Before 1998 No one understood what an accessible playground could mean. Now playgrounds have both sensory play and ground-level play. Children with disabilities can be challenged while not being threatened during their social play activities.

Shane’s Inspiration and Playground Development

Shane’s Inspiration did run into challenges when trying to get these playgrounds developed. As they had to persuade communities about the benefits of these playgrounds. Some individuals indicated in meetings that they didn't want these playgrounds because there were no children that had disabilities in their Community which just wasn't true. Some even believe that these children had some sort of communicable disease and they didn't want their children integrating with these disabled children which is kind of shocking. They persisted through this problem and went Community to community to ensure that their playgrounds were developed.

there started to be an understanding that disabled children could benefit from these playgrounds and how play could help them with their disability. Their activism created a new awareness for children with disabilities. In the playground industry today, being inclusive is at the forefront. Communities are not just upgrading playground equipment they are building inclusive playgrounds for all children. They find the funds through private donors and through their municipality. a lot of credit has to go to the recreation and parks departments across the Nation. There's a large shift in awareness that just wasn't there in 1996.

More Playground Creativity

Today the playground industry is more creative because they have needed to create playgrounds that are inclusive. Playground designs are now more varied and there's not just a simple slide or a swing as the environment provides more multi-sensory experiences. the new designs are driven by the needs of the children. By implementing family programs and school programs at playgrounds the staff of Shane’s Inspiration learn how the children play and this helps them in the design process of new playgrounds.

The Future

The future of playground design will be influenced by the children that grew up in the first inclusive playgrounds. There will be no limit to what is possible. New playgrounds will have more interactive play and more sensory play. As we gain a better understanding of what children with disabilities need in terms of play these new playgrounds will be designed to meet all their needs.

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