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Small touches help make a children's park inclusive, Vishakhapatnam shows you how

Just a small touches are needed to make a children's park or playground inclusive and accessible. In a welcome sign, there seems to be greater awareness about making parks accessible to all kids, with and without disabilities.

This week, Vishakhapatnam, opened the gates to a Park For Children With All Abilities on Beach Road this week. Its the first park of its kind in the city located in scenic surroundings, looking out to the Bay of Bengal.

The park has facilities for disabled children and was launched by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

The park has been developed by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) and is a part of the Smart Cities Mission. Local authorities claim this is the first one in India to offer special facilities for people with disabilities.

Park features

From a vertical climbing net, horse rider, crawling tunnel, a shoulder builder, palm wheel, leg roller, and a merry-go-round, there are many things here that are specially easy to use and fun for kids with disabilities.

There are also raised pathways and a multi-purpose lawn. The various sensory needs of children with different kinds of abilities has been kept in mind.

So what goes into making a park accessible to all kids? Here are some things to consider.

  • Sand in the play area to stimulate the tactile or touch system in a child with autism.
  • A walkway with different types of materials for tactile stimulation.
  • Playground structures must have elements that offer passive and interactive movements. Like tyre swings so kids benefit from random and motivated motions.
  • Loose building materials so a child can create structures, like wooden blocks or plastic objects.
  • Quiet, partially covered corner so a child can retreat for some alone time.

Making a park inclusive is fairly easy, says Kavita Krishnamurthy, founder of Kilikili, an organization that works across many cities to make parks accessible to all children, with and without disabilities.

We have worked with existing commercial play equipment manufacturers and explained to them what we need. We have also designed our own play materials and constructed them out of tyres, bricks etc. A challenge has been to find people with levels of skill that can bring our vision to reality - Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Founder, Kilikili

Fortunately, that vision seems more evident, at least in our cities. Last year, four accessible parks for kids with disabilities were opened to the public in south Delhi, while in Chennai, civic authorities are building a park over a sprawling 15,000 square feet area in Santhome high road.

The Chennai park will have tactile feedback platforms, light and sound show, exhibits with Braille signboards, and wheelchair-friendly toilets. The park has been designed such that it is accessible for people with visual, hearing as well as physical impairments.

An attitudinal change that will hopefully be adopted across even more cities.

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