Opinion: Schools should have inclusive playgrounds


Photo credit/ Wpcpey (Creative Commons Attribution)

An inclusive playground located in Tuen Mun Park Contour Play Zone.

An inclusive playground is a playground in which children of all abilities can play together. According to Playlsi.com, these playgrounds do not have a separate section for children with disabilities. Instead, disabled children can play alongside non-disabled children. Children get the opportunity to interact with peers of all cognitive and physical abilities, while understanding those with special needs.

An inclusive playground is needed to create a sense of community between able-bodied and disabled children. Special needs children are already separated from their peers in schools because they may have additional academic or emotional needs. All types of children need socialization, no matter their abilities. This type of playground will allow special needs children to safely socialize with others.

Though most people may not think about it, children in wheelchairs or with other physical impairments might not be allowed to use the playground for safety reasons. This further isolates disabled children from their peers. Most playgrounds do have a separate portion for disabled children but most children without disabilities would not go there because they likely feel it has nothing for them.

This divide unintentionally causes isolation between the two groups. Rather than teaching the other children to be inclusive, the subconscious lesson is to stay away from each other. Elementary schools should always focus on kindness, friendship and inclusivity. Because inclusivity is a major theme for schools,it makes sense to have inclusive playgrounds.

Schools may claim they do not have the budget for this type of playground. It might indeed be expensive but there are grants to help defray those greater costs.. Even if it is a little more expensive than a typical school playground, the payoff is greater seeing all the children play and thrive together.

The terms accessible and inclusive are often used to describe playgrounds, but the words are not interchangeable. According to All Play Inc, an inclusive playground manufacturer, an accessible playground has no barriers along the pathway and ramps to access different levels, while inclusive playgrounds encourage all children to play and have activities for children who may not be able to climb or slide while not isolating the pieces of equipment into a separate area.

Some outcomes and benefits of an inclusive playground also include more compassionate children, more awareness of social situations, and not having to worry about accommodating children with different needs. According to Playworld, inclusive playgrounds provide a safe social environment and increases self esteem and boosts confidence. Children may tend to be more compassionate because they are around children with other disabilities and are encouraged to include them in games. They will likely be more aware of social situations because they understand how to interact with children who are different from them because they were exposed to differences via play.

If non-disabled and disabled kids are both taken to an inclusive playground they can play games together. It is important to teach kids how to interact with people who are different from them, and they could more effectively learn this lesson with a playground like this because they would be interacting with children different from themselves every day.

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