A couple of years ago I sent Hubby, who was in Brisbane on a business trip, to the All Abilities Playground at Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. He was impressed and came back with loads of photos. On my recent trip to South Bank I had the pleasure of checking it out myself.
We took our little country cousins aged 8 and 4 and caught the ferry from South Bank to Riverside. The ferry is wheelchair accessible and a lovely way to get to the City Botanic Gardens. It’s a bit of a walk from Riverside Wharf but it was a pleasant level walk along the waterfront.
The All Abilities Playground is in such a beautiful location in the City Botanic Gardens with lovely level paths to explore the rest of the gardens and an oasis for families looking for a break from the busy city.
When the park opened a couple of years ago, Brisbane City Council described the park as follows, “the new playground provides access for children in wheelchairs and includes a mix of equipment that is stimulating and interesting for all children. It is supported by additional changes to the park infrastructure, including wider pathways to allow carers to walk alongside wheelchairs and upgraded toilet facilities with ceiling hoist for people with disabilities.”
Accessible carousels are one of the most popular features in accessible parks. They allow a wheelchair easy access (no step up to enter) and two spaces specifically for wheelchairs. Seating allows those that are unsteady on their feet somewhere to sit and also encourages social interaction with peers.
A nest swing makes it possible for a child to lie down or have a parent or sibling support them in the swing. AJ, BJ and myself have all managed to sit in one of these comfortably.
It’s fantastic to see a digger in the sandpit positioned at the edge of the soft fall. This means a child in a wheelchair can use it without needing to go in the sand. Sand and wheelchairs don’t mix!
Sensory panels are positioned around the park allowing for play from a wheelchair. I can imagine BJ drumming up a din with the large bongo drums. It would somewhat disturb the peace and tranquility of the gardens.
For children who are visually impaired there are these press button talking robot-like posts.
Communication boards are a fantastic addition to parks. I love the fact many accessible parks are installing these boards allowing for spontaneous communication for children who are non-verbal. It also provides a fun environment to practice newly learnt skills for a child in the early stages of using a communication system. For children visiting a park who do not have a disability it opens up the opportunity for a conversation between children and their parents, hopefully resulting in educating everyone that people communicate in different ways. I think it would be great if these boards came with a short explanation at the top describing how these boards help people communicate. It would assist parents in giving their children an informed answer to their ‘why’ questions. The communication board is positioned at the start of the playground area. Ideally this should be in the middle of the playground to allow kids and parents to refer to it more easily once playing. But, I’m just happy to see it.
The large musical pipes were a hit.
There’s no Liberty Swing (wheelchair swing) at this park but there’s a harness swing for those that can get out of their wheelchair. These do provide more support than a general swing but I personally feel the Liberty Swing still has a place in playgrounds. Children or teens who cannot get out of their wheelchairs can’t use the nest or harnessed swings. I love the sensation of swinging and I don’t think much replaces that liberating feeling. Just my opinion and I know many disagree.
Raised sand and water play features in parks are a welcome addition for children using a wheelchair. The more there is for children to do while in their wheelchairs the more likely their parents will be able to take them to the playground, particularly as they get older. When BJ was younger and lighter we happily took him out of his chair and slid down slides, had him on our lap on swings and carried him around the park. As he became heavier we avoided the park as there was little he could do in his wheelchair and getting him out of the chair was really hard work.
The paths which surround the playground provide easy access for wheelchair users and there’s plenty of areas to explore.
The playground is located in City Botanic Gardens, Albert Street, Brisbane. For more information head to the Brisbane City Council’s website
It’s lovely to see 3 accessible parking bays near the playground (at the Alice Street end of the gardens)
The park has an abundance of accessible bathrooms near the playground.
There are two accessible stand-alone bathrooms and one Changing Places bathroom which has a hoist and adult size change table inside.
A ceiling track allows visitors to transfer to the toilet which has a back rest and grab rails which can be lowered and locked into position.
Visitors are required to have their own sling and the bathroom facility is locked with a MLAK key (you will need to have your own key as the volunteer office above doesn’t have a key) to access the Changing Places facility.
If you aren’t familiar with Changing Places you can read my review of one here.
Allow a bit of extra time after visiting the playground to have a wander and enjoy this beautiful spot.
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