Across America – 23 years after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 – a person doesn’t have to be of a particular race, sex, age, religious affiliation, or socio-economic status in order to play in a park, they just have to be … able-bodied.
Since the approval of the ADA, the concept of universal design standards has greatly evolved. However, the majority of neighborhood parks are not inclusive for all, namely those with disabilities.
The outdoor playscape is an important setting for development and age-appropriate activities; for physical, cognitive, emotional, social and sensory growth. Perhaps more apparent, it’s just plain fun. Playgrounds allow children to play with and alongside others, run and jump, climb and swing, leap and crawl, yell and whisper, and conquer and reign.
All one has to do is view a child in a wheelchair that is sitting off to the sidelines watching other children play to realize the true cost of outdated technology. Likewise, experiencing children of all abilities playing together, without inhibition or a care in the world, allows us to understand the magnitude of opportunity that abounds.
There is much society can learn from innocent children playing in inclusive parks.
Not convinced? Take a moment to watch a beautiful video that explains the concept born from the memory of little Shane Alexander Williams whose legacy lives on in the laughter of the children blessed to play in the special playgrounds. The mission is rather simple – to unite children of all abilities. It is possible.
Some claim there is added expense in creating universally designed parks; while others argue there is a larger cost to society – and to children both with and without disabilities – that can no longer be tolerated. The cost of updating a whole playscape has economy of scale, especially when the cost to society of not having inclusive playgrounds is factored in. Beautiful parks attract residents and businesses, and enhances property values. They fight bight, crime and juvenile delinquency.
Universally designed parks shouldn’t be a chore, an aberration, an after-thought, or an item on a wish list – it should be a reality.
Bringing an inclusive park to a nearby neighborhood could be as easy as a few well-placed phone calls. MyChildTM has identified 10 action steps to jumpstart interest in a universally designed playground, visit and Call MyChild’s call center at to request Kit No. 910 – Inclusive Playground Information Packet.
The term “play” often conjures up ideas that the time spent in its pursuit is not important, when in fact, meaningful play time in or outside a park is immensely beneficial to every child. It sets a foundation for health, fitness and well-being. Park play is a seminal part of the experience of being a child that should be available to all children, universally. By, developing children in an inclusive environment, they grow into adults filled with compassion, understanding and acceptance.
Is there a down side? Better yet, is there a down slide?