Playgrounds are a great place for kids to learn new things while having fun. The benefits of playtime make it particularly important that all kids feel included and welcome on the playground. Inclusive play equipment focuses on providing equal opportunities for playground fun for kids of different abilities, ages, and backgrounds. Choosing inclusive playground equipment creates an environment that facilitates quality play for all children and gives them the opportunity to learn and play together. Ensuring that all children can make the most of your playground is a great way to foster new friendships, understanding, and learning within your community.
If you're building or updating a playground, consider the core tenets of inclusive play and universal accessibility before you buy your new equipment, including accessibility, safety, and quality play for all. Create a fun mix of playground equipment that allows for engaging play for kids with a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities. While not every piece of equipment may be appropriate for each child, the playground as a whole should offer different opportunities for safe and engaging play. Inclusive play focuses on overall inclusion and fairness for kids with different needs and abilities. This creates a playground experience where kids can develop new physical and social skills as they safely challenge themselves through play.
Choosing equipment that a wide range of kids can use helps maximize opportunities for inclusive play. Shared equipment gives kids a common ground for adventure and peer bonding. One way to encourage kids in inclusive play is providing a large play structure with different features. Adding different accessories or customized add-ons can make these structure a fun play opportunity for kids of varying ages and abilities. Equipment that focuses on imaginative play and learning is another great way to promote inclusive play. For example, pretend play equipment can help children of different abilities and ages interact with each other. These collaborative activities provide opportunities for social development as kids learn to navigate their differences in the pursuit of fun as they play house, pirates, or any other imaginative game.
Other children may prefer independent or side-by-side play. Many types of independent play equipment are accessible to kids of differing abilities who can then enjoy the activity at their own speed. Kids who prefer independent active play may enjoy swings or spring riders, while sensory learning stations for water play or sand play allow kids to have low-key fun through experimentation and observation. Puzzles and musical activities also provide a great way for kids to have engaging playtime without the physical demands of active play. While there are many types of independent active play equipment that are accessible to children with physical disabilities, you may also want to consider incorporating modified equipment or special accessories that can further improve accessibility. Equipment such as wheelchair-accessible ladder arcades and swing sets allow kids with physical disabilities to join in side-by-side active play.
In addition to choosing inclusive playground equipment, carefully consider your playground design and surfacing choices. Even if you have inclusive play equipment, other physical barriers like uneven surfacing and overly crowded play areas may limit access for some children. Removing these environmental barriers and replacing them with easy-to-navigate surfaces or adding ramps can greatly improve access and promote more inclusive play throughout your playground. Carefully evaluate your playground to ensure that all features are ADA compliant, and consider other safety or accessibility accommodations appropriate for your community's needs.
AAA State of Play offers a wide array of inclusive playground equipment, from pretend play structures to independent learning stations. We offer a large assortment of quality commercial playground equipment, surfacing, and playground accessories. Shop online or reach out to our helpful customer service team and find the perfect playground equipment for your playground and budget needs. Our customer service team is also happy to help you with any questions you may have regarding equipment accessibility, safety features, or any other concerns you may have about your equipment purchase.
Find more about the author: Kim Hart