Good quality play with greater stimulation enhances a child’s well-being, happiness and overall healthy development.
Inclusive play is no longer just about adding a wheelchair ramp. It’s about creating meaningful play environments for people of all ages and abilities: Through the benefit of inclusive play children get the sense of being equal, improve communication and social skills, and work on their ability to think and problem solve and enhance their fine and gross motor skills.
A truly inclusive and embracing play experience addresses the developmental needs of the whole child by intentionally providing opportunities for physical, cognitive, communicative, social and emotional and sensory development. Playcore is the largest manufacturer of recreational products in the USA and Imagination Play are their exclusive distributors for three of the Playcore companies.
Playcore has developed a wide range of purpose designed equipment and have partnered with universities and industry experts to develop Me2 – 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design which outlines the best practices for creating meaningful play environments for people of all ages and abilities.
These are: Be fair, included, smart, independent, safe, active and comfortable. Imagination Play together with these resources can provide comprehensive design advise and equipment to support play activities for all abilities. We can also provide extensive documented resources on inclusive playground design and equipment choices.
At Imagination Play, we believe it is important to work with communities, schools and local councils to continue to grow and develop inclusivity for open space areas.
EVERYONE deserves to have good friendships and the sense of belonging to a community group or family!
WHAT IS INCLUSIVE PLAY?
Let’s look at the definition of inclusive play: Children of different abilities are able to play together.
To be truly inclusive, playground equipment needs to have challenges on different levels.
Products can be “not inclusive” in 2 ways:
1. Not suitable for impaired children.
2. Only suitable for impaired children (a wheelchair swing is not inclusive)
Playing is first of all fun, but over the years it has become clear that it is also one of the main reasons in which children can learn. Play helps children’s development in many ways. Playing gives space to a child’s imagination and fuels creativity.
Through play, children get to know their own physical possibilities and their limitations. Challenges and risks teach them to evaluate the situations they face and find ways to go further than before. Playing together with other children helps to develop important vital social skills. Unfortunately, playing in general and playing together with other children in particular is not self
evident for every child.
Children that have an impairment are often hindered by the fact that many playing opportunities seem to be designed for able bodied children only. This of course can make it difficult for children with an impairment to play with other children, to have fun together and to develop important skills. It is estimated that there are around 288,348 disabled children living in Australia (7% of all children)*.
* Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (2009)
To develop exciting and inclusive play products we are the exclusive distributors of Russell Play, a truly inclusive playground equipment supplier.
Russell Play have worked together with a group of experts: from play workers to teachers at various schools for visually impaired children and from hearing impairment researchers to special needs physiotherapists. Local schools and hospitals were involved in testing the inclusive play equipment products. This cooperation has especially helped Russell Play to develop the ‘fun4all’ range of inclusive play equipment stand-alone products and the ‘Amico’ range of modular inclusive play equipment.
Russell Play have learnt that focusing on disabilities leads to products that are not inclusive. Experts and children have taught us to focus on abilities rather than disabilities. From their research they have found that children with certain impairments are sometimes even better at things than able bodied children. Visually impaired children for instance can be very good at hearing and often have a well developed sense of touch. With the Russell Play equipment, At Imagination Play we want to make use of this and help children develop these senses and skills.
We also want to cater for children with behavioural problems. Rather than mainly having areas where children can play together, we have also created space for children that want to be on their own and watch what is going on from a distance. This will help children on the Autistic Spectrum to feel comfortable and enjoy the inclusive play equipment and the area as well.
As every child has a unique set of capabilities, Russell Play have created products that have challenges on various levels. This gives children of all abilities the opportunity to play at their own level, to find challenges to grow and it allows them to play together with children that have different abilities.