Why Should Schools and Communities Want an Accessible Play Space?

An inclusive playground shows that everyone has value. It teaches children that everyone can be together. When kids are able to play and see a child in a wheelchair having fun, to see what they can do, it changes their perception. This type of interaction moves feelings from pity to understanding and it makes a better world. — Laurie Schulze, a mother of a child with Cerebral Palsy
When children play, they are:
  • strengthening their overall health;
  • learning how to make decisions, experimenting, generating ideas, practicing skills, role playing, and inventing; and
  • building social skills and interacting with their peers, including those with disabilities.
While physical exercise is important for both the mental and physical health of all children, 38% of Canadian children with a disability almost never get physical exercise after school, compared to 10% of typically developing children (Physical & Health Education Canada, 2013). A lack of physical activity can lead to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as an increased risk of developing secondary health conditions like cardiovascular disease. It’s important that children with disabilities have a means to exercise regularly, including through access to a playground that can be used in physical education classes and recreational play.
Two photos.  First photo shows kids with and without physical disabilities playing together in an accessible play space.  Second photo shows a mother in a wheelchair playing with her kids in an accessible play space.
Inclusive, accessible playgrounds benefit everyone. They offer all children the opportunity to play alongside one another and help to create a sense of community:
  • Children with disabilities enjoy the benefits of active play, including social skills and overall health
  • Children without disabilities learn valuable lessons about the world, including that everyone has similarities and differences
  • All children develop concepts related to tolerance, diversity, and acceptance
  • Parents, grandparents, and members of the community with disabilities can also access the spaces. Everyone can interact and have fun
Two photos.  First photo shows boy with amputated legs playing in accessible play space.  Second photo shows a father in a wheelchair playing with his daughter in an accessible play space.

For more information on the importance of inclusive and accessible play spaces for schools and communities, download our Let's Play Toolkit here.