Having an accessible playground in Thunder Bay


accessible playgroundTHUNDER BAY – There has been a lot of questions surrounding the issue of accessible playgrounds in Thunder Bay. A fully accessible playground goes past just installing ramps and rubber mats.

In addition to children who rely on mobility devices, there are children who have other disabilities such as autism, visual or hearing impairments and intellectual or language delays.

How do ramps help children with all types of disabilities?

Accessible playgrounds are designed to help children with a disability use the equipment, regardless of their physical limitations.

The equipment is also designed to be sensory rich so a child with developmental and sensory disabilities can safely participate. To make a playground accessible the play area must have rubberized flooring.

The rubber flooring is very durable and provides smooth access with limited grades so that people using wheelchairs, crutches or braces can access the equipment.

Small adjustments to a playground can go a long way, sand boxes can be elevated so wheelchairs and scooters can roll up to them and swings can be installed that provide adequate body support.

Overhead rings and bars can be lowered so a child can reach them from a wheelchair or scooter. Accessible slides and an accessible way of getting back to the entrance point should also be installed.

Adding ground level equipment creates a play area where all children and adults can play together.

Ground level activities allow more opportunities for children to socialize, such as swinging next to a friend and running or wheeling around through different challenges on a variety of play equipment. If the majority of children engage in ground level activities, then a child with even the most extreme disability could be included.

For parents raising a child with a disability, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to play and engage your children at places such as a playground.

Accessibility features also allow adults with disabilities to interact with their children or grandchildren throughout the playground. Having an accessible playground in Thunder Bay would benefit the well being of everyone not just the child or parent with a disability.

Kristi Hudec
PUSH Northwest
Thunder Bay, Ontario

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