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.
2019 Update: The Everyone Can Play Guideline was published and $4m funding was distributed to local government to upgrade or start a new inclusive playspace.
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.
An accessible playground is good, but would be better if it is also inclusive. Having a continuous path of travel is a good start, but what if the child cannot leave the path to join in the activities? Four playgrounds in Turkey are the subject of a research report, which provides good recommendations and the reasons behind them. It shows 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”. Australia’s Livvi’s Placeplaygrounds gets a mention.
Edited transcript of Bec Hoand 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.