What is Inclusive Play?

All kids are created equal with the same desire and need to experience play. Play opportunities that challenge and inspire them physically, support and stimulate them cognitively and facilitate an emotional and social connection. A well-designed inclusive playground welcomes children and adults of all abilities to interact and play together. Play is not only fun, but it’s also an essential part of a child’s development and critical for the successful growth of both the brain and the body.

The necessity for play is universal regardless of age and ability. Often when the term accessible or inclusive playground is mentioned, people think of individuals with a physical disability who require a mobility device, but true inclusivity is much broader and considers individuals with developmental disabilities like autism; children with sight or hearing impairment and children with intellectual disabilities, such as down syndrome. It’s important to design an outdoor space that considers the needs of everyone, including siblings, parents, grandparents, friends and other caregivers.

Play is a universal language, and it's something everyone deserves.

What Makes a Playground Inclusive?

An inclusive playground welcomes kids and families of all abilities to learn, play and grow together. These spaces provide just the right level of challenge and risk to meet kids where they are, addresses all levels of ability, and creates play experiences for a variety of needs and interests. An inclusive playground goes beyond basic accessibility and ensures children and adults of all abilities have play options and can choose how they want to engage in play.

Beyond the playground features, it’s important to consider other elements that truly make a space inclusive. Creating a welcoming, safe, and accessible environment is just as important as the playground itself. A fence can help define and contain the area, but also provides a sense of comfort to both children and parents. It’s also important to incorporate plenty of shade options, as children’s tolerance levels of sun and heat vary greatly. Pathways, ramps, and transfer points should also be considered and made as accessible as possible. Pathways should be wide enough to accommodate someone using a mobility device as well as a person walking beside that individual. Protective surfacing, such as poured-in-place rubber surfacing, provides a truly accessible experience for kids and adults of all abilities.

Benefits of Inclusive Play

The play that happens on a playground is transformative for both the brain and the body teaching us how to interact with one another, how our bodies move and figuring out how to master new skills. Adults and children of all abilities need the opportunity to experience all the benefits play has to offer developmentally.

  • Meets Individuals where they’re at. Ensuring a playground is welcoming to everyone creates an environment where the differences in skill and ability melt away. A well-designed, inclusive playground provides opportunities for everyone to practice a range of skills and encourage active, independent, and meaningful play for all.
  • Fosters critical social development. Play is where we learn from each other and the more opportunities we create for that face-to-face play and social interaction, the more these life-long skills will be developed.
  • Promotes imaginary play. Imaginative play is one of the ways children “try on” the many roles and activities of life and helps develop “whole child” learning.
  • Facilitates cooperation and camaraderie. Inclusive playground components encourage cooperation and build camaraderie as everyone plays together.
  • Creates opportunities to play quietly. Children need the opportunity to slip away to explore quieter play adventures through inclusive play equipment.
  • Encourages everyone to engage meaningfully. An inclusive playground also enables adults of varying ages and abilities the chance to actively engage with the children in their care. The playground becomes a truly multigenerational gathering space for community enjoyment, socialization, healthy bodies, and imaginative fun

Inclusive Projects

Just as every child is unique, every playground should be, too. We have partnered with many organizations
and community groups to create inspiring and inclusive spaces that welcome everyone to play.

Inclusive Play Features

Providing a variety of options for sensory engagement gives children the autonomy to choose how they want to play.
This independence in play improves confidence, self-esteem and physical competence.

Tell Us About Your Inclusive Playground Project

Let’s create a welcoming space in your community that brings children of all ages and abilities together to play. Share some information about your project and we will be in touch!

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