Blog > November 2018 > Adapted parks for children with disabilities

Adapted parks for children with disabilities

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Parks are the centre-point of our local communities. They’re often our go-to venues for birthday parties, get-togethers, BBQs, and sunny Saturday afternoons, so it’s important that they are inclusive to all of our family members.

Adapted parks and playgrounds are valuable resources for children with disabilities and their families. They are spaces for children to interact with their peers in an inclusive environment and experience the simple joys of playing on the swings and making castles with plastic shovels in the sandpit. Australia has some of the most beautiful parks in the world, and local communities across the country are working hard to make their parks and playgrounds inclusive and accessible to children with disabilities.

Important Features of Adapted Parks

There are many features of a great adapted park. Here are some important things to keep in mind when lobbying for more accessibility in your community:

  • There should be plenty of secure accessible parking close to the playground.
  • Wide, sealed paths throughout the park for wheelchair access, including paths that run between the play equipment and shelters.
  • Accessible bathrooms and change rooms with adult-sized change tables are important to ensure park amenities cater to everyone’s needs.
  • Picnic tables and BBQs should be at an appropriate height, and installed on a sealed, wheelchair-accessible surface. Tables should have a place for a wheelchair user to park their chair.
  • Entry and exit gates should be wide enough for mobility equipment to pass through.
  • The playground should be inclusive, with play equipment for children of all abilities including wheelchair users.
  • Sensory areas, such as quiet zones, are useful for children with sensory or spectrum disorders.
  • All park signage should include braille interpretations.

Accessible Playground Equipment

Australia is a proud and innovative world-leader when it comes to accessible playgrounds. Our adapted parks offer a great variety of inclusive play equipment, including: 

The Liberty Swing: This swing is a local invention, manufactured in Sydney. It is designed to allow children who use wheelchairs to swing safely in the park. And it really swings! There’s no boring rocking back and forth with the Liberty Swing. The swings are usually installed right in the middle of the action so that children with disabilities can play alongside their peers - and able-bodied children can also take a turn using the internal swing seat!

Liberty Swings remain locked when they aren‘t in use, so it might be worth calling your local council to arrange to pick up a key (which is free!) on the way to the park. You can find a list of Liberty Swing locations in the Liberty Swing website.

Raised Sandpits: Raised sandpits that are surrounded by a smooth, sealed path allow children in wheelchairs to enjoy the sensory experience of playing in sand with their peers.

Wheelchair Accessible Bike Tracks: Family bike tracks on wide, sealed paths make great wheelchair paths, too! They are inclusive of all family members, whether they use a wheelchair, a bike, or just prefer walking.

Adapted Parks and Playgrounds Across Australia

Hendrie Street Reserve and Inclusive Playground

Hendrie Street Reserve and Inclusive Playground is a new addition in Park Holme. It was born of the local residents' desire to create a playspace for children of all abilities. There is a variety of adapted play equipment here, including activities suitable for children with physical disabilities, vision and hearing impairments, sensory disorders, and spectrum disorders.

The inclusive playground features fantastic equipment and amenities, such as:

  • The Fruit Crate Multistation, a climbing and sliding structure with wheelchair access up to the first level.
  • A sensory room attached to the multistation with diminished sound volume and a chalkboard for calming art (but you’ll need to bring some chalk with you!).
  • Accessible sand and water play stations.
  • A ground level carousel accessible to children with mobility impairments.
  • A range of swings, including a basket swing so that children of all different abilities can socialise while they swing together.
  • Accessible bathrooms with adult-sized change tables.
  • The pathways throughout the playground are designed for easy wheelchair access.
  • Nearby accessible parking.
  • Accessible BBQs.

Hendrie Street Reserve and Inclusive Playground

120B Hendrie St, Park Holme South Australia

Livvi’s Place

Hendrie Street Reserve and Inclusive Playground is part of Livvi’s Place national network of inclusive playgrounds in Australia. Livvi’s Place collaborates with similar inclusive playgrounds across Australia, a comprehensive list of which you can find in TouchedbyOlivia.com.au.

Collaroy Beach Accessibility Precinct

Collaroy Beach Accessibility Precinct combines the best of both worlds: adapted beach fun and a playground! Lifeguards are available 9am to 5pm between October and April, and 9am to 6pm between December and February. You’ll need an MLAK key to access the Liberty Swing and the accessible bathrooms. If you don’t have an MLAK key, you can borrow one from the lifeguards.

A FreeWheeler beach wheelchair and a submersible wheelchair are available for hire.

Collaroy features an abundance of adapted play equipment, including:

  • A Liberty Swing.
  • An accessible carousel.
  • Interconnected timber decks.
  • Sensory sandstone structures and musical equipment.
  • A water play area.
  • Wheelchair accessible picnic areas.
  • Accessible bathrooms.
  • Wheelchair-accessible busses.

Collaroy Beach Accessibility Precinct

LOT 7177 Pittwater Rd, Collaroy New South Wales

City Botanic Gardens

Nestled in the Brisbane City centre, beautiful (and accessible!) City Botanic Gardens boast an array of exciting activities for kids. Once you’ve been through Bamboo Grove and Weeping Fig Avenue, had a picnic on the river, and checked out the ornamental ponds head to the accessible playground to enjoy:

  • An accessible carousel.
  • A harnessed swing seat and a nest swing.
  • Interactive play panels.
  • Spring toys and rubber softballs.
  • An adapted sandpit and sand diggers.
  • Elevated play structures.

While at the Botanic gardens, you’ll also have access to:

  • Accessible bathrooms.
  • WiFi.
  • Accessible Parking.

City Botanic Gardens

147 Alice Street, Brisbane City, Queensland

In Conclusion

Inclusive parks are important community spaces, and it‘s up to local communities to advocate for access to them. There are many beautiful, accessible outdoor spaces and playgrounds across Australia, and you can find out even more information on accessibility in your area from your local council and state parks authority.

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