When I heard that one of our favorite local playgrounds, Dartmouth Park, was closing for improvements, I was excited for what’s to come. Although I will miss playing in this perennially shady park for a bit, it made me wonder what the future holds for Orlando playgrounds.
As parents of littles, taking our children to the playground brings back fond memories from our youth. But handicapped adaptive equipment and accessibility were missing. Playgrounds then were also designed for kids who engage in play in the traditional sense. Nowadays there is greater awareness of different styles of play and inclusion of children with sensory processing issues. It’s a welcome change to see more and more inclusivity for these children, like Sensory Sensitive Sundays at Chuck E. Cheese, AMC Sensory-Friendly Films, and the Big Talk 4 Little Ears group.
What is inclusive play? Inclusive play makes opportunities available to all children, regardless of disability and background. It’s the belief that children should all have the chance to play together. “All children benefit from being outside, interacting with their environment, learning from nature and developing through play” (sensorytrust.com/uk). In order to achieve, this Orlando is providing a rich mix of play opportunities, engaging the senses, making different types of space (quiet vs noisy, etc), providing accessiblilty (meeting ADA requirements), and creating a conducive environment to families and caregivers (seats, covers, etc).
The City of Orlando’s playgrounds all incorporate aspects of inclusive play and meet ADA requirements. All 54 Orlando playgrounds have accessible routes to the playground from the arrival points and have safe surfaces for play. These playgrounds also include equipment that engages multiple senses and styles of play. Many of these play areas have inclusive disc swings and adaptive swing seats (see list below).
The staff at the City of Orlando also pointed out that shade is a part of inclusivity. How true this is. If there are not mature trees present, shade tops are being added to new and renovated playgrounds.
It’s just one more thing to love about raising kids in Orlando.
Playgrounds with adaptive swing seats:
- Mitchell Nutter Park
- Reeves Terrace Playground
- Mathews Park
- Langford Park Tot Lot
- Golbert McQueen Park
- Northwest Community Center
- Callahan Neighborhood Center
- Delaney Park
- Smith Center
- McCoy Community Park
- Jackson Center
- Willows Park
- Lake Lorna Doone Park (including ramps to allow wheelchair access to upper-level play areas)