Play For Everyone: Inclusive Playground Equipment & Design


Playgrounds are a fundamental part of childhood, offering a place for children to play, run, and climb with their friends and family. However, not all children have equal access to playgrounds due to their varying abilities. This is where inclusive playground equipment comes into play, providing a space where all children, regardless of their abilities, can play together.

At Playdale, we create playground equipment that is inclusive and accessible to all. The Inclusive Orbit is one of our best-selling accessible product, designed to give an inclusive and sensory experience for children of all abilities. Inclusive play areas allow children with disabilities to play alongside their friends, promoting socialisation and helping to break down barriers.

Why inclusive playgrounds?

Inclusive playgrounds are crucial for various reasons. Firstly, they promote physical activity and healthy development for all children. Play is essential for children’s physical, emotional, and social development. By creating inclusive playgrounds, children of all abilities can engage in physical activity and develop their motor skills.

Secondly, inclusive playgrounds promote diversity and inclusion. By creating a space where all children can play together, we are fostering a more inclusive and accepting society. Inclusive playgrounds teach children from a young age to appreciate diversity and respect differences. This is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive society.

Different types of disabilities

The most obvious disabilities are those that affect our mobility. It is easy to spot a child in a wheelchair and give them the help they need. Some children suffer from invisible disabilities which manifest themselves as bad behaviour or meltdowns. It is difficult to understand this type of disability and understand the limitations it causes.

Invisible disabilities

An invisible disability is a disability that is not obvious. Conditions such as; poor vision, hearing impairment, autism, diabetes, chronic pain, fatigue, heart and lung problems, kidney issues, mild cerebral palsy and brain damage are all hidden disabilities. They all restrict the lives of the people suffering from them but are not obvious to anyone else.

Children with breathing problems need to access equipment easily so it doesn’t compromise their breathing. Fatigue is difficult to understand if you haven’t experienced it but it makes being energetic and active challenging. Children on the Autistic Spectrum require equipment that is simple to use and supports their cognitive needs. While those with sensory processing disorders need equipment that relaxes or stimulates them.

Inclusive playground equipment accommodates those needs allowing children to make friends and enjoy playing with others.

Physical disabilities

Physical disabilities are either hidden or obvious depending on how it affects the child. This type of disability affects the mobility of the person. Causes include accidents, loss of limbs, muscular dystrophies, spinal damage, cerebral palsy, inherited conditions, meningitis and brain injuries. Many of these disabilities affect a child’s ability to process information and causes cognitive impairment.

Occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech therapists suggest activities and exercises to help to overcome the disability. Inclusive playground equipment and the playground environment give children the perfect opportunity to participate in sociable physical exercise.

Children with mobility issues need not sit on the sidelines any more due to inclusive playground equipment.

Inclusive playground design

At Playdale, we believe that playgrounds are for everyone to enjoy. While outdoor play is generally focused on physical activity, we also know that this can mean different things to different people. We incorporate a variety of equipment in our designs that is suitable for all children, to provide a fantastic playspace for everyone to enjoy.

Necessarily, different types of equipment are suited to different types of people. We ensure we include the sorts of equipment that will give everyone the equal chance to play, to the best of their abilities.

Educational play

Our range of Sand and Water Play Equipment brings tactile play to an exciting new level. Children can experiment and get their hands dirty, exploring how their actions mould and change the world around them. Furthermore, it is also a chance to introduce scientific concepts and to encourage children to observe and calculate. Most importantly, the emphasis is on playing and doing, rather than on the theoretical. Children of all abilities will love this imaginative space.

Our educational Play Panels are designed to work alongside the school curriculum, and to integrate playtime with the classroom. Featuring real-world situations and lots of learning opportunities; from telling the time, to solving mind puzzles. Even less physically active kids can get the full use of your playground with these innovative and educational structures.

Our Musical Playground Equipment also provides an innovative way to let children explore their creative side, without necessarily demanding a lot from them physically. Making music accessible in the playground can also be a great leveller, as musical instruments and lessons can be expensive.

Health & fitness

For many, physical activity can seem like an uphill struggle. If it’s not something you are used to, the implied competitive element can drive people away from physical education and aerobic activity. However, the benefits of it is undeniable, and we consider it hugely important to make health and fitness available to all. Our range of outdoor fitness equipment is perfect for older children and adults who have the desire but not the equipment, and make an outdoor gym accessible to all. A small change in this department can have huge benefits, and our range can help to make exercise a seamless part of life, and help you find the joy in it.

A diverse range of equipment means you can meet the diverse needs of your users. Ultimately playgrounds and outdoor fitness should be about having fun, whoever you are.

The Playdale experience

Outdoor play is crucial for all children with its vast range of important benefits. Children who attend special schools have wide-ranging needs and the benefits of an accessible play area where they can connect with the environment, learn from nature, improve their health and physical development whilst all the time interacting and socialising with each other are enormous.

Playdale Playgrounds has dealt with projects in special schools around the UK for many years and have the equipment and experience to provide help in planning the vital outdoor spaces in these settings.

Rigby Hall School, Worcestershire

Rigby Hall School, Worcestershire

Rigby Hall School in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire is an all age special school taking pupils between the ages of four and nineteen, with moderate or severe learning difficulties.

In recent years, pupils at the school only had a large tarmac yard area to play on during breaks. The time for change had come! They arranged to meet their local Playdale Area Manager for a free, no-obligation design and consultancy meeting. The school was impressed from the outset with the discussions and subsequent design proposals presented back. Headteacher Tracey Smith said they were “Beyond our expectations.”

Following the installation, the pupils and staff were over the moon at the outdoor space transformation. The definite favourite item so far is our best-selling inclusive roundabout – The Inclusive Orbit.

Headteacher Tracey Smith told us “The children are excited to be out at break times and they are learning to manage their own risks in terms of how high they will climb and at what level. Not only is the equipment used at break times, but as an integral part of PE sessions too particularly the Adventure Trail and Gym Buddies. The playground stands proudly at the front of our school. We couldn’t be happier with the facility that we now offer our pupils. It’s above and beyond our expectations.”

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Lexden Springs School, Colchester

Lexden Springs School, Colchester                                                          

Lexden Springs is a Special School in Colchester, Essex which caters for 3-19-year-olds with varying needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder and Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties. The school was keen to provide free play opportunities to support collaborative interaction. Pupils with these types of complex needs can struggle to play with others. The developmental journey in their ability to play can be a slow one; from isolated play, to parallel play, to playing alongside then to the early stages of interactive play.

The outdoor play provision now has a fantastic selection of equipment to accommodate and encourage this from the teamwork-led Team Swing to the angled spinning sensation of the Gravity Bowl and even a Jukebox Plus Multi Play Unit with inclusive access.

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All of our products have elements of inclusivity in their design, although some have stronger inclusive features than others. Our design engineers constantly strive to design products that provide the maximum play value for all children. On our website and in our catalogues we have added an ‘Inclusive Design’ symbol on specific products, to make it easy for you to find them.

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Inclusive Orbit roundabout at The Anna Ritchie School, Peterhead

Inclusive Orbit roundabout at The Anna Ritchie School, Peterhead

Adventure Trail at The Anna Ritchie School, Peterhead

Adventure Trail at The Anna Ritchie School, Peterhead                                     

                                                      

The Anna Ritchie Special School, Peterhead, in the north-east of Scotland has recently opened a brand new, inclusive playground to ensure that access to all the fantastic experiences on offer in a play area is available for all its pupils. They were aware that playground equipment should enable singular play but clear additional benefits and enriched play can be gained through cooperation. So the equipment can really motivate pupils to make that developmental progress.

The school’s outdoor space now offers its pupils challenging fun on Timber Adventure Trail,  the chance to play & interact together on the ever-popular Team Swing and exciting spinning fun on the Inclusive Orbit roundabout. The school were absolutely delighted with the end result and told us that the pupils have really enjoyed playing with all the new equipment and the increased accessibility means that so many more pupils can now join in, play and have fun together.

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The play area at The Bridge School, Ipswich, Suffolk

The play area at The Bridge School, Ipswich, Suffolk                                                   

Following some extensive building improvement work, The Bridge Special School in Ipswich wanted to improve and enhance their outdoor play provision also. An exciting play area is now being enjoyed by the pupils at the school which now has a huge variety of play products including; interactive & sensory Play Panels to help develop & exercise the user’s sense of touch, vision & sound, along with role play, sensory and communicative play with a pair of Loudspeakers, an Inclusive Orbit roundabout, a Team Swing and a Jukebox Plus Multi Play Unit with inclusive access.

 


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