Taking an inclusive approach to planning and designing playspaces can be simpler than you think!
Below are 10 simple tips to help you improve inclusion at your local playspaces.
1. Plant a tree
Trees are an affordable way to improve shade in your playspaces, an important part of the ‘Can I Stay’ principle. If space permits multiple trees can be planted to create or enhance nature play areas. In areas where water is an issue, choose locations that would have the most impact for users of the space (for example near seating, or to the north and west of the main playspace to maximise mid-day and afternoon shade).
You could also consider initiatives where community members adopt a tree and contribute to the watering and care.
2. Consider Nature play
Nature Play is a really popular type of play and can be as simple as providing access to existing areas with good tree cover and enhancing these areas by adding a few elements like sandstone blocks, logs, plants and loose, natural materials. Signage can also be used to educate parents on the magic and benefits of nature play (children already know!).
3. Better seat selection
Many playspace areas include seats. Simply by selecting seats with more accessible features such as supportive arm and back rests you can make your playspace more inclusive and encourage people to stay longer. Consider locating seats adjacent to accessible paths and in areas with shade and good views for supervision. If new slabs need be poured, consider additional concrete space next to the seat to allow for parking of prams, wheelchairs or mobility aides.
4. Upgrades to swing seating
Swings are a favourite item in many playspaces. But some swing seats provide little support and are either too big or too small for all users. Consider replacing seats with more accessible versions such as toddler seats with high backs, hand holds and better strapping; wider slat seats that support adult use and birds nest style swings seats that allow for several users at once. Joey swings are also a good option as they allow parents/caregivers to enjoy the thrill of swinging with a child face to face!
5. Retrofit rubber soft to key zones
Rubber softfall can be an expensive investment so is best used wisely. Consider using it to provide access to key inclusive elements such as in ground carousels or nest swings. Consider the impact of sun on the surface and try to locate it in areas with adequate shade.
6. Provide a place to eat
Picnic settings and BBQ areas provide the opportunity for people to come together and socialise as well as play. This can encourage people to stay longer as well as supporting community events and activities.
Also consider where feasible including supporting amenities such as such as drinking fountains, rubbish bins, and toilets/changing amenities. This is particularly important at larger destination playgrounds.
7. Make small connections
Sometimes a small connection can result in big difference. Playspaces that are located near existing path networks can make a big difference to inclusion. Connecting playspaces to existing perimeter paths and the broader footpath network can help provide easier access for people with prams, wheelchairs or mobility aides. Also consider linking to any nearby picnic settings or seats, so that everyone can stay.
8. Consider the playspace network
Consider how the playspace relates to neighbouring playspaces. One playspace doesn’t need to offer everything! Providing a range of different play opportunities within your playspace network offers the community a variety of recreational experiences and encourages people to explore their local area.
9.Advertise your playspaces
Some LGAs have many playspaces and residents might not know about all the hidden gems within their neighbourhood. Some councils use an Interactive map to display all their playspaces and describe the facilities on offer. This allows the community to explore and ensure the playspace is right for their needs.
10. Utilise the toolkit
The Everyone Can Play Guideline contains a user friendly playspace evaluation checklist. This checklist provides the opportunity to review existing playspace under the three principles of Can I Get There, Can I Play and Can I Stay and identify potential priority areas for improvement.
The Guideline also includes a design principle checklist which can help in the design of new inclusive playspaces.