The NSW Government has announced it will be developing a set of guidelines for all councils to follow when it comes to kids’ play spaces. The aim is to ensure everyone can enjoy playgrounds and play spaces within five years. Funding will be provided to NSW councils to assist with retrofitting existing parks. They are to be assessed against universal design principles. The Touched by Olivia Foundation (Livvi’s Place) has been leading the charge on this topic for some time. It is good to see their efforts being supported by the Government in this way. There will be consultations with stakeholders in the process of developing the guidelines which will be launched next year. There are two press releases on this topic: Liberal Party media release, and a NSW Government media release. It also go picked up by Global Accessibility News.
What should play spaces look like for all ages? Inspired by a 10-year old resident from Lilydale, Melbourne, Yarra Ranges Council committed a $1.4million upgrade to the Lilydale Lake playground in 2014. The recently completed project was developed in consultation with local primary school children. The Council found that the two main priorities for the children were:
- Emphasis on nature over plastic materials; and
- Play areas for all ages.
“They actually wanted a space where their parents will play with them,” Ms Robyn Mansfield, the Council’s manager of built and active spaces. “Where their older siblings will want to play with them, where their grandparents will want to play with them.” More information on the Park can be found on the ABC website.
The purpose of The Good Play Space Guide: “I can play too” from Sport and Recreation Victoria is to examine the reasons why play spaces can limit access to some children and identify how improvements can be made to increase participation by all children in play. The aim is to help providers meet the needs of parents and children through the planning, design and management of inclusive play spaces. Download the pdf guide here.
The Touched by Olivia Foundation also has some excellent resources on inclusive playground design.
See also the children’s view of play spaces from Launceston.
Children are not often considered in planning processes except in terms of playgrounds, schools, child care and skateparks. Part of the process of designing universally is to include people of all ages in the plan or design. An article in Fifth Estate reports on a workshop in which children were encouraged to create spaces and places that they like. With medium and high density becoming the norm in many Australian cities, children’s backyards and activity centres will be the streets and public spaces of the city. The same can also be said for their parents and grandparents. Making sure everyone is catered for is the ultimate goal of Universal Design.
See also Knee-High: Pop up Parks from the Design Council in the UK.
Making a children’s playground physically accessible for children with disability is an insufficient measure of its inclusiveness. Having a continuous path of travel is a good start, but what if the child cannot leave the path to join in the activities? This article reports on research on four playgrounds in Turkey and provides some good recommendations and the reasons behind them. They cite Australia’s Livvi’s Place playgrounds and show how to apply the seven principles of universal design to playgrounds. For example, Principle 2, Flexible Use “ensure that spaces are designed so as to be easily understood, to give children the opportunity to try and succeed and to make the users feel safe. …” Turkey has has signed up to the UN Convention and is keen to make progress towards social inclusion.
The article is titled, No “Obstacles” In Playgrounds That Are Not Only Accessible But Also Inclusive, by Hatice Ayatac and Ipek Pola. Published in the ICONARP International Journal Of Architecture & Planning.
You can also see more about Livvi’s Place playgrounds and their report, State of Play for Inclusive Playgrounds.
The City of Sydney imported the purpose-built, accessible spinner from Germany and installed it at Pirrama Park playground in Pyrmont. The spinner can fit up to three wheelchairs at once, as well as several other children – so everyone can have fun together.
It has a simple, built-in braking mechanism. It’s a great design which means everyone can enjoy themselves at the same time. Picture by SydneyMedia.com.au.
Edited transcript of Bec Ho and Justine Perkins presentation.
Synopsis: Including children with a disability in outdoor play is possible with some careful design planning. All children benefit from learning through play and using outdoor activities to socialise and interact with each other regardless of their level of capability. Bec and Justine provide insightful case studies and an overview of the Touched by Olivia Foundation.