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Play Is For Everyone - At Least it SHOULD Be!

Let us imagine this scenario - you and your friends are going to see the latest action movie in 3D. Now, you've read the reviews that say that this movie is probably the best movie to hit the theatres in over ten years. And so you are visibly excited and yearning to see and experience all the film has to offer. And so, the day comes when you've got to go to the theatre and see this movie in 3D. All of your friends attending with you get a pair of 3D glasses, except you, since the theatre happens to run out of drinks. When the movie starts, and as it plays on, your friends display a wide range of emotions. Screaming for the excellent parts, and getting emotional at the sad parts, while you look at a blurry screen unable to comprehend what is happening at the moment. Why did this happen? Because the aids/equipment that you required to be able to participate actively in the movie - namely the 3D glasses were not available, and you missed out on the entire experience.

Not so much fun, right?

This word picture perfectly describes the experiences of a differently-abled child when they are unable to participate in the playground with the other children. And just because they cannot use the same equipment that the other children can use. For designers and people in charge of the development of public parks and playgrounds, the concept of inclusive design must be at the forefront of the design effort - taking into consideration the differently-abled children, parents, and caregivers. In a reputed publication - The seven principles of inclusive playground design - there is a quote which states that the fault lies not with the differently-abled person, but with the environment, they are in that is the cause for the barrier.

Inactivity is a problem, even for differently-abled children, and studies show that youth and children with current disabilities are 4.5 times more inactive than other children and that they are more prone to obesity and other such ailments, and this is according to leading scientists.

And so the question we need to ask ourselves is - How can we create inclusive, all-encompassing spaces for play, which everyone, regardless of their disabilities and differences, can use?

Visualize the connection

Just as in an electrical circuit, the connection concerning playground design is significant. If any part of the course is broken, current ceases to flow. In the same way, connectivity is an essential measure of playground development. Is the play area near to the parking? Are there accessible ramps that everyone can use? Can people with wheelchairs come up to the play area from the parking? These are some questions that can be asked during the design and development process.

When in doubt, get the suggestions of an expert in the area. Involve all stakeholders in the design and development process, and you will more than likely get a successful outcome. Play is for everyone, and that is how it should be.

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