Te Pua/Keith Park playground employed an innovative early program of co-design with an All Abilities Project Group (AAPG), representing disability organisations and key stakeholders from the community. Through ongoing engagement with disabled people as experts, the outcome was an inclusive and welcoming play space for a diverse range of children, young people and their caregivers.
Play equipment included a range of vestibular, visual, and auditory pieces as well as a customised 2m high wheelchair accessible play tower for inclusive play experiences. Caregivers were enabled to play with their children through smooth and step-free surfaces as well as specific play equipment such as an adult and child swing. Children and young people of different ages and abilities were encouraged to sit/lie/stand in the basket swing and see-saw together. Unique to this playground, communication boards were innovatively and collaboratively designed with visual images representing various features of the playground and QR codes linking to online videos with New Zealand Sign Language.
In addition to play equipment, the AAPG identified that the toilet facilities were crucial to ensuring accessibility to many families, including those with bigger children or teens with access needs who were often faced with the reality of needing to be changed in unsanitary and unsafe ways without the appropriate facilities being available. Keith Park worked with a leading toilet manufacturer to co-design a bespoke double toilet block with enhanced accessibility features including an adult-sized change table.
Every aspect of the park was carefully selected and designed including fencing, furniture, plants and colours. Colour enhanced accessibility by guiding children with low vision and created a play circuit to assist the neurodiverse community. The resultant playground is one that welcomes all to play, which is a core tenet of child development, socialisation and participation.
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