School Playground Equipment: Building an inclusive playground

Published: 02nd March 2009
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Good school playground equipment should be designed so children with a wide range of physical abilities can enjoy it. Read through these seven guidelines to building an inclusive playground to learn more about building a fair, safe and comfortable environment for all children to learn in and enjoy.

1. Be Fair
The play environment provides social justice by being equitable and usable by children of all abilities so they can enjoy their right to play. Provide appropriate surfacing and site design for physical access into and throughout the play environment so children can actively engage in social and physical play activities. Offer equitable opportunities for everyone to participate in a variety of developmentally appropriate forms of play. Promote an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance by providing integrated activities throughout the play environment that encourage exploration, problem solving and discovery. For example, a fair school playground equipment feature might be an accessible pathway to and throughout the play environment allows people of all abilities to participate in play.

2. Be Included
The play environment supports the participation of individuals with diverse abilities in social and physical activities for inclusive, multigenerational play. Organize the play environment to provide various types (physical, social, sensorimotor, constructive, etc.) and forms (autonomous, parallel, cooperative, etc.) of play so there is something fun for everyone. Provide a balanced variety and a continuum of developmentally appropriate physical and social activities, throughout the play environment, which are dynamic and accommodate individuals' diverse abilities. Provide choices in method of participation or use. Provide meaningful opportunities for inclusive, multigenerational play. A good way to incorporate inclusiveness into your playground setting is by building social gathering spaces under decks and along accessible pathways allow children of all abilities to be included.

3. Be Smart
The play environment allows children to effectively explore and participate in play at their own level. Design the play environment with a variety of multi-sensory features that are organized to provide meaningful cues. Provide intentional multi-sensory (auditory, visual, tactile) stimuli through a variety of play activities. Offer opportunities for children of all abilities to access and engage in the play environment as independently as possible. Accessible transfer decks designed strategically with play activities like slides allow children with adaptive school playground equipment to successfully engage in their natural play behaviors.

4. Be Independent
The play environment allows children to effectively explore and participate in play at their own level. To do this, design the play environment with a variety of multi-sensory features that are organized to provide meaningful cues. Provide intentional multi-sensory (auditory, visual, tactile) stimuli through a variety of play activities. Offer opportunities for children of all abilities to access and engage in the play environment as independently as possible. As you bild, it's helpful to be aware of equipment, like ramps, and multisensory features in the environment which allow children to effectively explore and participate in playing and learning more independently.

5. Be Safe
The play environment addresses current safety standards while providing developmental opportunities needed for exploration and challenge. To best take this into consideration, provide safer play activities and environments, through graduated levels of challenge, that allow children to explore, interact, and experience developmentally appropriate risk. Support children's emotional feelings of security so they are more likely to engage in play. Accommodate for comfortable supervision and ongoing maintenance. Benches placed throughout the play environment offer jump-in-points for kids while also promoting adult supervision.

6. Be Active
The play environment supports various degrees of physical and social participation in play while minimizing unnecessary fatigue. Allow individuals to maintain neutral body position so they can actively sustain their engagement in physical and social play. Include play activities that require reasonable operating forces and integrate alternatives to sustained physical effort or repetitive actions. Provide for a range of developmental opportunities for challenge to accommodate children's diverse physical characteristics. Offer balanced opportunities for social play throughout the play environment, by providing a variety of play activities at the ground level and under decks. When considering the accessibility to activity, keep in mind that play equipment like the One-for-All swing provides support for children of all abilities to experience the joy of movement. There are many uniquely and accessibly designed playground features that are beneficial for all abilities to enjoy.

7. Be Comfortable
The play environment is usable for individuals with sensory needs, diverse body size, posture, mobility, and motor control. Provide play activities with comfortable approach and reach for a seated or standing child. Accommodate variations in gross and fine motor control for manipulation of play activities. Provide comfortable space for movement throughout the play environment for individuals with assistive devices and/or personal assistance. School playground equipment should be accessible not only to the children enjoying them, but to the individuals assisting the children or learning alongside them. Provide a range of environmental conditions, like shade, to accommodate children's diverse comfort characteristics. Features like and accessible fire truck cab allow children of all abilities to comfortably approach and reach the activity while the open space inside supports comfortable movement.

To learn more about school playground equipment and building an inclusive playground, visit http://www.cvsnider.com


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