Accessible, but not inclusive

Many communities, schools and recreation centers strive to make playgrounds accessible for all. However, just because a playground is deemed accessible doesn’t mean that it’s inclusive. Rotary Miracle Playground in Dothan, Ala., recently experienced this. While their new playground was accessible, parents of children with disabilities felt the playground was unsafe because typically developing children didn’t know how to interact with those who had different abilities.

Education is vital to influencing inclusive play, which is why Dothan Leisure Services reached out to Shane’s Inspiration, a California-based national organization whose goal is to foster compassion through inclusive play. Leisure Services held their first “My Play Club” event on Saturday, Aug. 20, in which they invited children of all abilities to come and play together. Children with disabilities were paired up with typically developing “buddies,” and they played together on the playground, got their faces painted, and created arts and crafts.

According to the Dothan Eagle, Marnie Norris, director of programs at Shane’s Inspiration, said social barriers between children often disappear after interacting with each other. They begin to understand the differences, and any preconceived ideas or fears often disappear. Learn more about Shane’s Inspiration programming, and visit us on Facebook to see more photos of Dothan’s first “My Play Club.”