A Place To Play
Growing up, the playground was the place to be. This is where memories were made, friendships were created, champions were born, and competition wove its way into our innocent lives. I think that most people have some sort of positive memory associated with playing as a child and I believe that it is very important for creating a positive association with exercise, movement, and physical activity. This is why I believe it is important for everyone to be given the chance to participate in play. Recently, I came across and article of NFL quarterback, Drew Brees, in partnership with his foundation, creating an all-inclusive playground in New Orleans. I have never heard of all-inclusive playgrounds before this, so I looked into them a little further after reading the article, and what I found brought me tremendous joy as a student of physical therapy.
Essentially all-inclusive playgrounds aim to provide a safe, inclusive, and entertaining environment for children of all motor and sensory ability levels. A few of the companies that provide the equipment for these playgrounds have certain standards and considerations that help shape their goals for their products. Miracle Recreation uses four, “Must Haves,” when designing their equipment:
- Accessibility – There needs to be an ADA approved route to the playground
- Equal Opportunity – All children should be able to participate in ground level AND elevated play
- Variety – Offering a variety of play experiences can help children incorporate all senses.
- Integration – The play area should feel like a cohesive community where sensory rich play opportunities are included among the activity
Other organizations such as inclusive playgrounds.org by Playcore Inc. have a set of seven principles that they strive to achieve:
- Be Fair
- Be Included
- Be Smart
- Be Independent
- Be Safe
- Be Active
- Be Comfortable
A more in-depth explanation of their principles can be found on their website. One such playground can even be found here in the Pittsburgh area in Upper St. Clair’s, “The Clubhouse.” I encourage anyone who is interested to look further into these playgrounds, and support your local area in trying to increase the number of these facilities. Everyone should be included and everyone deserves to play.
-Jim Tersak, SPT, CSCS