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.
Alliance for Childhood released a statement saying “free play is the missing link in the antiobesity campaign…exercise and nutrition along won’t turn the tide of fatness.” Childhood obesity experts at Mayo Clinic stresses to “emphasize activity, not exercise” and that a child’s activity does not have to be a structured exercise program – “the object is just to get him or her moving.”
In fact, research supports that children with disabilities are a greatly underserved population when it comes to health programming and intervention. One of the reasons is that most play/exercise places are inaccessible. Unlimited Play’s universal design features goes beyond ADA law. It ensures that people of all abilities can play on a playground.