Playspaces: Adventurous and Inclusive

A small boy crawls over a branch laying on the ground. He is in a woodland setting and wearing winter clothes. Concepts of play can be designed into many different places – not just the standard urban park. Making play areas inclusive is becoming the norm now – not singling out specific play equipment for children with disability. And not calling them “all abilities” play spaces either. If they are inclusive they don’t need a special name.

We need to add adults into the design as well. Younger children only get to go if an adult takes them, and that adult might have a disability. That means moving away from the modular play equipment found in catalogues as the total solution.

Sanctuary magazine has a great article on nature play in parks and home gardens titled, Playspaces: Child’s play gets serious. Touched by Olivia has achieved many of its aims and is now part of Variety. The NSW Department of Planning has followed up on this movement with the development of the Everyone Can Play guideline. 

For academics, the Sanctuary article is also available from Informit.  

The adventure evolution

A boy and girl are in a forest and are assembling lots of fallen branches to make a hideout. Playspaces: the adventure evolution.Playspace designers have an important role to play in society. That’s because play is an essential part of human development.  And as society evolves so too should playspaces. In line with the concepts of universal design, playspaces are evolving and designers are improving as they go. Adventure playspaces are evolving too.

The recent move away from control and safety to adventure play offers plenty of room for creative designs. Recycled, natural or found materials rather than manufactured equipment allows for imaginative play.  It means a lot to parents to have an inclusive playspace for their whole family.

An article in Landscape magazine covers the topic of play and design features. It has several good examples to share although they don’t appear to be inclusive. Nevertheless, some of the landscape architects featured are making their designs more inclusive. The Evolution of Playspaces is an informative article for anyone involved in playspaces.

An article from Italy discusses the importance of adventure play and taking risks for children with disability.

An article from Denmark discusses the dangers of standardized playground equipment designed by adults with no input from children, who prefer to make their own play. You need institutional access for a free read.

Two small boys are crouched by the side of a pond and are reaching into the water. An example of the playspace adventure evolution..For more see a separate article on inclusive playspaces and the Everyone Can Play guide. 

See also Adventure play and children with disability for a research paper on the same topic.

No Obstacles in Playgrounds that are not only Accessible but also Inclusive is also a research paper. 

The Everyone Can Play website has a video where parents talk about what it means for their family to have an inclusive play space.

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