In a joint position statement, the Children’s Play Policy Forum and UK Play Safety Forum are calling for action to improve play opportunities for disabled children in the UK.
Supported by PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales and Association of Play Industries (API), the statement calls for accessible and inclusive play spaces to uphold every child’s right and need to play.
Including Disabled Children in Play Provision, states that society has failed in producing enough accessible and inclusive places for children to play within a reasonable distance of their homes. It makes clear that:
- a positive, solution-focused attitude is essential to include disabled children
- it is possible to make adaptations to increase accessibility and remove barriers to participation by engaging with and prioritising the needs of disabled children and their families
- there is an urgent need to change public attitudes
- more welcoming spaces must be created which maximise the range of play opportunities offered by the equipment and the environment.
The statement is accompanied by an appendix which includes three examples.
The statement aims to support those involved in play spaces, playgrounds and adventure playgrounds in making these facilities more accessible and inclusive. It is aimed at local authorities, voluntary organisations, housing associations and schools, amongst other play providers – including private providers, such as pubs, holiday parks, camp sites, service stations, theme parks, zoos.
Tim Gill, Chair, Chair of the UK Play Safety Forum, said:
‘Just like any child, all disabled children need and want to play. But for decades, they have been left poorly served. This statement makes a powerful case for change, while acknowledging the challenges. Perhaps most importantly, it sets out a clear vision for new and improved play spaces that will engage children of all abilities.’
Nicola Butler, Chair of the Children’s Play Policy Forum, added:
‘This statement will help build a better understanding of the barriers which keep many disabled children and their families excluded from local play spaces. Overcoming these barriers will bring benefits for non-disabled children too, as they learn through their interactions and engagement with disabled friends and peers.’
Marianne Mannello, Play Wales’ Assistant Director and member of the statement working group, said:
‘Some disabled children face isolation, exclusion and loneliness. This may be due to an environment that is poorly designed, attitudes which reinforce our differences or the effects of conditions and impairments which limit self-independence and participation. When we design spaces that get it right for disabled children, more children can play alongside one another, developing a better understanding of the full range of abilities. These early experiences shape our tolerance and understanding of difference.
We hope that this statement supports stakeholders to take reasonable steps to ensure that all children make good use of playgrounds and play spaces, enabling them to benefit from all the positives playing brings to a happy and healthy childhood.’