Aerial view of DRA collaboration - inclusive playspace

An initiative to create Chennai’s first inclusive play space was inaugurated today via videoconferencing by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

A park for children of all hues
A park that welcomes every child
Play experiences for those who move on wheels
… and for those who don’t.
Swings and sand pit, slides and seesaws,
Merry-go-rounds and climbers, basketball and mini gym,
Circles and tyres, sounds and smells,
And tiles full of colour,
…. All telling a story.

A project of the Greater Chennai Corporation and Smart City (P) Ltd along with the Disability Rights Alliance , Kilikili and CityWorks , it is located on a site adjoining the State Resource Centre for Inclusive Education of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in Santhome, Chennai.

The park offers many new and innovative ways of meeting the play and leisure needs of children with and without disabilities. Since play needs of children evolve as they grow, the play space has been zoned in three distinct areas – a space for the tiny tots, one for the older child and one for the adolescent.

The play areas have rubberized flooring, which enhances the safety for children, with its greater shock absorbing capacity.

Pathways are lined with tactile markers to facilitate easy navigation for those with visual impairment. A toilet that meets accessibility norms is also constructed.

The fully accessible play space offers smooth passage for children who use wheelchairs with a variety of play experiences they can enjoy, including an inclusive sand pit (sand table at a height for those who use wheelchairs along with a space for other children), merry-go-round, swing and wheelchair accessible basketball (with the hoops at two levels, the lower of which can be accessed by children using wheelchairs).

The park is a sensory paradise offering children sensorial experiences to engage them – a herb garden to tickle their sense of smell, bright colours that are visually appealing and opportunities for musical play.

Regular playground equipments such as swings, slides and climbers, with appropriate modifications, will all help children work on their big and small muscles, orienting their body in space and sense of body balance.

The Stepping Stones will help children learn to judge height and distance as they playfully jump from one stone to another. What will also thrill children is the Sensory Pathway in the figure of an 8, made with different textures like pebbles, sand, artificial turf etc.

For children who may be overwhelmed with the buzz around (such as children with autism), there are quiet corners with table games such as Aadupuliyatam, Kattamvilayattu and snakes and ladder. A sheltered space at the centre would offer shade and rest for those who need it.

Bringing art into the space is a playful mural that is interactive, which brightens the park. In addition there is a wall at the entrance made with tiles, hand painted by children with disabilities. Careful attention to details is all it takes to make a simple play space inclusive for all children.

And as this preview from Polimer TV shows – not just for children!