No other activity in children's lives provides as much richness and
experience as free play. During free play children develop their skills,
attitudes, and relationships, and learn to develop and integrate their
bodies, minds, and emotions. They explore their own potential without
the risk of failure or ridicule. They can imagine they are someone else,
try something new, fall down and get up, try and try again. Free play
on a playground is serious business for children. The typical playground,
however, may often be a place of failure for a child with a disability.
A great deal of energy has been expended improving playground accessibility
by providing great physical access. But the removal of physical barriers
(accessibility) doesn?t always mean the removal of social barriers (inclusion).
Because play is a social, as well as a cognitive and physical experience,
accessibility must be accompanied by full social access. The ideal playground
environment enables all children to use their individual strengths and
abilities to engage in play independently and equally with their friends,
siblings, and neighbors.
The Beyond Access website
contains information which guide parents, advocates, communities,
play environment designers and equipment manufacturers
in their efforts to create inclusive play environments for all children.