You have a playground that needs to become inclusive, and you wonder how to achieve it. With the new play principles evolving daily, inclusivity is the key to making play spaces open for all people of all ages and abilities.
This article will cover everything you need to consider when upgrading your playground to be more inclusive.
What is inclusive design?
In the realm of playgrounds, inclusive design is emerging as a game-changer. It’s not just about making play areas accessible; it’s about ensuring every child feels a sense of belonging, irrespective of their abilities.
Universally designed swings or see-saws, for instance, are not just pieces of equipment. They are symbols of a playground where all children can play together, breaking down barriers and fostering community integration, equal play opportunities, and shared experiences.
Learn more about inclusive design:
Inclusive Playground Design: An Adventure in Inclusion and Fun for All
Make your existing playground inclusive.
- Accessible Surfacing: Choose surfacing materials that are firm, stable, and slip-resistant, like rubber or artificial turf. This is an easy way to upgrade your playground. Reorganising your space flow with accessible surfacing for all children to different features increases inclusivity.
- Ramps: Have a tower or a slide? Connect it to a mound or create a ramp where children can access it. Make sure to keep the elevation degree accessible for users of all ages and abilities to go up and down.
- Variety of Play Equipment: You can choose many options to make your playground inclusive. Low-basket swings, inclusive seesaws and trampolines for wheelchair access are great options.
- Sensory-Stimulating Activities: For a tactile interaction, musical panels, sensory pathways, and playing with colour are great to make your space more inclusive. Easy to install, you can easily upgrade your playground with this feature.
- Quiet Spaces: For users with a high level of sensitivity, it is essential to make spaces without much stimulation, such as shaded areas with different types of equipment that cater for them.
- Inclusive Seating: Often overlooked, inclusive seating is a great way to make your area more inclusive. Armrests, low benches and access for wheelchair users are some of the ways to improve your playground inclusivity.
The costs of making your existing playground inclusive
When you engage in your new project, it is important to understand how far your budget can get you and how many inclusive features you can install in your play space. The more features you can make inclusive, the better results the whole community will get.
However, it is essential to stay true to your budget and upgrade the features that will impact the most,
Site prep – potential demolition and replacement
Independent of how much you have in your budget, make sure to allocate 1/3 of your project to site prep. You can squeeze this more if you don’t want a complete overhaul of your space and want to make a few areas accessible and implement inclusive features.
This may incur removing surface or old equipment and creating new pathways.
Invest in diverse play equipment that caters to children of all abilities. There are many ways to make your playground more inclusive. Below we compiled some options.
Low basket swings are the most common inclusive equipment that you can have in your space. If you already have a swing in your playground (where you can save on budget), consider lowering its height and adding a safety surfacing path.
Play pods made from wet-pour rubber are great to make it inclusive. Adding a new swing set in your playground can range from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the size of your space and the set you wish to install.
Being inclusive means that children of all abilities can play together. Seesaws that are inclusive can have users of different abilities interacting.
They can cost anything between $5,000-$15,000 fully installed with safety surfacing.
You can add all kinds of games in panels. They range from musicals to puzzles. You can purchase off-the-shelf or custom-made panels that suit your location and tell your space story.
One of the most inclusive play equipment you can add. It requires a safe fall perimeter around it and some groundwork to fix the equipment to ground level.
It can range from $5,000 to $10,000 fully installed but can accommodate many users, enhancing its play value.
Ground trampolines are fun for all! The little ones can jump in and play, and children of all abilities can use this equipment and have fun.
Requires more work on the ground to fix the springs and have enough room for drainage.
Sensory play equipment
They are easy to add, and all users love them. Sensory equipment can range from a pathway to panels. You can fit it in most spaces as they can be attached to a wall, under a tower or just on a path.
The options are many, such as sensory gardens, sound stations, visual boards and colourful surfaces.
Surface is the most essential part of making your playground inclusive. Why is that? Because it will make it accessible in the first place.
There is no reason to have a low basket swing if you do not have a clean and easy access pathway for wheelchair users, for example.
When planning your playground upgrade, you can make use of different types of surfaces that will be inclusive. Artificial turf, wet-poured rubber, concrete, and asphalt are the most common.
For extra play value, consider unique designs with pour ‘n’ play, where colourful items can be installed on the ground and made accessible.
What you and the users get from it
- Physical Benefits: Playgrounds are fantastic places where kids can engage in physical activities and have fun. These activities help kids to develop their body coordination, balance, and fitness. In short, playgrounds are great for keeping kids active and healthy.
- Cognitive Benefits: These playgrounds offer various settings and activities that boost children’s brain growth, encouraging them to think creatively, use their imagination, and learn by exploring.
- Social Benefits: Playgrounds designed for inclusivity allow kids from all abilities to connect, promoting understanding, teamwork, and a sense of community.
- Emotional Benefits: Such playgrounds give every child, regardless of their abilities, a chance to play side by side with their friends, enhancing their self-worth and confidence and reducing feelings of worry.
Looking to the future
Inclusive playgrounds are here to stay. The more inclusive you make your play space, the better the gains for all users.
Remember always to engage your community, students and people who will most benefit from your space to add the best features to make your playground more inclusive.
Ready to make the change? Engage with Creo, the only Full-service playground company in New Zealand, to guide you through the process. Call us at 0800 000 334 or book a site visit.