Play is a critical part of physical, emotional, mental and social development for EVERY child.
Especially for children with disabilities, play is therapy – both physical and emotional. On the physical side, children’s muscles need to be exercised just like anyone else’s. And most importantly, on the emotional side, children need to interact and socialize with their peers.
Simply put, kids need to play with other kids. Yet for so many kids with disabilities, their days are spent with parents, doctors, nurses, therapists and other adults. But on fully accessible playgrounds, children with disabilities can swing, slide and climb with their friends – as well as with their siblings and parents – which is literally something they may have never been able to do before.
Of course, the benefits of fully accessible playgrounds don’t stop with kids who have challenges. Able-bodied children learn and grow on accessible playgrounds by interacting with others who are in some ways different from them. Accessible playgrounds also allow parents and other adults with disabilities to play with their children – something that’s often not possible on at a traditional playground.
Every way you look at it, fully accessible playgrounds help break social barriers, and become an environment where everyone learns to respect and understand each other. And those are the kinds of lessons that can last a lifetime.
Often underestimated, playgrounds promote free-play, foster self-determination, spark imagination and get children active for longer periods of time. Additionally, playgrounds give parents and caregivers the opportunities to relax, spend quality time with their children, and connect with other parents.
Playgrounds are an outlet for much needed physical activity among children of all ages. This generation is more sedentary than any generation in history – 24 hour, multiple channel television programming, gaming systems, and the explosion of digital devices are keeping our children from going outside to explore, run, and play.
Continue Reading at Unlimited Play
About Unlimited Play
Unlimited Play is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that helps to plan, design and build fully accessible playgrounds that allow all children – regardless of their abilities – to play together. A valuable resource in our community, Unlimited Play has unique expertise in this area, and is available to assist in the development of inclusive playgrounds that promote dignity, understanding and respect among children.
Three-year-old Zachary Blakemore provided the original inspiration behind Unlimited Play. Zachary suffers from a rare genetic central nervous system disease (Pelizaeus Merzbacher Disease) that confines him to a wheelchair or assistive walking device. But like all children, Zachary loves to play.
When his mother Natalie would take Zachary to the park to play, the playground would only emphasize his limitations. And even more frustrating was the fact that the playground’s barriers that stopped him from playing also prevented him from interacting with the other children.
But after visiting an accessible playground while traveling to the east coast, Zachary’s parents Natalie and Todd began to dream of creating an accessible playground in Zachary’s hometown – and of the day when playgrounds like this would exist for children everywhere. They teamed with Zachary’s pediatric speech therapist, and Unlimited Play was born in 2003.