Calls for more inclusive playgrounds

Two mothers in Wales have described their pain at the lack of inclusivity for their disabled children in community playgrounds.

Speaking to the BBC, Lynsey Summer, mother of 14-year-old Jacob who suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy, said she is frustrated at a lack of opportunities for disabled children. Ms Summer stated ‘people desperately want their children to be included’ and that she did not want to ‘sit and watch everyone else's children’ when her own cannot join in. Jacob attends a specialist school which has a playground with equipment including a wheelchair accessible roundabout, swings and slides. From September this playground will open on Saturday afternoons but for the summer holidays this is not an option. Mother of George, Clare Johnson, also spoke to the BBC. George has an autistic spectrum condition and is non-verbal, which has led to him becoming excluded from recreational activities with his friends. Ms Johnson spoke of people staring at her son, stating ‘People don't realise they're doing it, it's not just the adults, the children too – they see something different, it's not the norm for them, but it can be hurtful.’ The charity Disability Wales along with Welsh Assembly Member Vikki Howells have complained that disabled children are facing restricted recreational access that suits their needs. Disability Wales said children are missing out on their right to play and Howells argued earlier in the year that councils were only duty-bound to "assess and secure sufficient" facilities for able-bodied children. In other areas, local councils are investing more in playground equipment for children with disabilities. In recent weeks examples include:
  • New equipment in Brentwood including a wheelchair roundabout, sit-up swings, a springtime see saw and some sensory sound orbs.
  • Accessible play equipment for disabled children planned in Kent as part of Faversham Recreation Ground’s £1.9 million makeover.
  • wheelchair-accessible equipment to be included in a new play park opening in Norfolk later in the year.
In London, a specialist playground for disabled children has provided a closed-access area to 800 disabled children since it opened in 2002. However, the KIDS Adventure Playground, based in Upper Clapton, London appealed for £100,000 earlier in the year to stay afloat. It is nearly half way to reaching its target.
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