The Accessible Playground
A Rotary Club Centennial Project
What Are Accessible playgrounds?
For most children, playgrounds represent freedom, a chance to express independence and challenge the world. However, for a child in a wheelchair, sandy surfaces become a hindrance, swings dangle out of reach and platforms cannot be reached by climbing. Accessible or boundless playgrounds are designed to remove artificial barriers allowing all children to participate to the limit of their abilities.
All playgrounds in Ridgefield comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by allowing general access. This means that access to the play area is free of steps and curbs and playgrounds are normally surfaced with wood chips for safety reasons. However, the ADA does not require that such playgrounds be specifically designed to allow children with disabilities to have access while using aids such as wheelchairs or braces.
Accessible playgrounds go far beyond the ADA requirements allowing children to use most of the equipment regardless of physical limitations. In all accessible playground projects, children with physical disabilities can enjoyed at least 70% of the play activities without leaving their support equipment behind. Equally important, equipment is designed to be sensory rich so children with developmental and sensory disabilities, like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or visual impairment, can actively, appropriately and safely participate with their typically able peers. To accomplish this, the area is first prepared with a rubberized flooring that is impervious to weather and provides smooth access with no steps and limited grades so that wheelchairs and crutches or braces can have access. Within the equipment, smooth transition is provided from level to level by bridges, ramps or accessible steps that can be negotiated by “scooting” from step to step using upper body strength rather than legs.
Other special features include transfer stations, ramps, high-backed swings, lowered monkey bars and elevated sand tables, all to accommodate children who use wheel chairs, walkers or leg braces. Some equipment, such as sway rockers is designed for operation by children in wheelchairs to bring them directly into the play experience and teach teamwork.
Across the country, more than 100 accessible playgrounds have been built or are under construction. At least six, including Ridgefield, have been built or are planned in Connecticut. Additional information can be found at the following sites:
Boundless Playgrounds is a registered Trademark of Boundless Playgrounds, Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Rotary Club of Ridgefield has chosen to raise a minimum of $200,000 to develop an Accessible Playground. This playground will be accessible to all children, regardless of abilities, and will be built on land adjacent to the new Ridgefield Recreation Center on Danbury Road.
Learn More about the Ridgefield Rotary Club
Rotary International is one of the world's largest service organizations, with over 30,000 clubs in more than 162 countries. Annually, Rotary clubs worldwide invite a limited number of men and women to become members. These prospective members represent various businesses and professional activities in their communities. As a progressive-minded business or professional person, you will see that belonging to a Rotary club, where outstanding representatives of the different vocations in your community come together, has its benefits.
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