The school holidays are nearly upon us in Australia and I thought it was a great time to remind you of the many accessible and inclusive parks that are now available. I am excited to see the development of accessible play spaces around Australia and the world. The park has gone from being my most hated outing to one I quite enjoy.
If you are meeting up with friends, take charge of arrangements and choose a park where your child will be able to participate in some of the activities. Here is a list of some of the parks we have visited and a list of some other playgrounds around the world. If you know of any more please let me know so I can add it to the list.
LIVVI’S PLACE, YAMBLE RESERVE, RYDE
Livvi’s Place, Ryde is where BJ tried his first ever flying fox. Watching BJ comfortably sitting in a supportive seat it was a joy to see him flying across the park with a huge smile on his face. There is a smaller merry-go-round at this park (compared to Livvi’s Five Dock) which still fits a wheelchair but does require muscle power. A large sandpit in the middle of the play space was popular, as were the slides set into a hillside.
The park is fully fenced and surrounded by beautiful parkland. There are bbqs and accessible toilets. Another lovely place to spend a day with friends. For more information about this park and others head to Touched by Olivia
LIVVI’S PLACE, TIMBRELL PARK, FIVE DOCK
This playground has my favourite piece of playground equipment EVER. The merry-go-round (pictured centre) brings kids together and with enough room for a wheelchair to sit comfortably. It is definitely a favourite with the kids too. The kids also liked the spinning seat which BJ could sit in easily and musical instruments at wheelchair height. AJ and Hubby enjoyed swinging together in the nest swing. The park is fully fenced, there is an accessible bathroom (MLAK key operated) and bbqs. Parking is available on the street. There is a cafe which serves light lunch and snacks for morning and afternoon tea.
For more information on this park and others head to Touched by Olivia Foundation
LUKE’S PLACE, CORRMAL (WOLLONGONG AREA)
Luke’s Place in Corrimal is a small fenced inclusive playground with merry-go-round (pictured), nest swing (pictured), water pump/play area, train and more. I’m really getting a feel for what I like in an accessible playground after visiting so many over the last two years. At Luke’s Place BJ enjoyed being able to help make the merry-go-round move with the spinner in the middle. I think he liked being in control rather than depending on someone else moving it from a bar at the edge. The nest swings are usually netting and I think I prefer the solid base because of the support it offers (see AJ lounging in it)
For more information about Luke’s Place head to the Touched By Olivia website.
Having regularly holidayed at Port Macquarie since BJ was a baby, we welcomed the news of the opening of Livvi’s Place Port Macquarie. An inclusive play space makes Port Macquarie an even more accessible holiday destination.
An accessible pirate ship is the centre piece for this park and with the water views and boats bobbing in the background it is a fabulous spot to visit. There is a wheelchair accessible carousel which is always popular with our family.
To read all about it and see pictures of all the features head to the blog I wrote after our visit.
We love Warringah Council’s commitment to providing inclusive activities for their residents and visitors. We are regulars at Collaroy Beach in summer. We like using the beach wheelchair, the easy access along the beach front, disabled parking and shade in the park. The fish and chips aren’t bad either. On our last visit we were thrilled to test drive the Collaroy All Abilities Playground. There are lots of features which make it accessible including a Liberty Swing which is positioned beside the other swings, including the Jenn Swing (pictured with AJ reclining)
BJ always likes water features and distortion mirrors and this park has both.
The location of this park makes it a great spot year round. If you’d like to know more about Collaroy you can read my blog post about our visit here.
Bathurst Adventure Playground in Victoria Park.
When we were heading to Bathurst a couple of years ago a friend said to me, “You have to stop at the Dinosaur park!” I didn’t know what was so good about it but we thought we would pop in seeing we were in the neighbourhood anyway. It turned out to be a wonderful park with so many unique features.
BJ and AJ went back and forwards on the flying fox over and over which left me standing on the sidelines waiting for my turn! There is a maze, wheelchair accessible carousel and my favourite feature was a wheelchair accessible sandpit. Hidden in the sandpit are concrete dinosaur bones.
For more information about Bathurst Adventure Playground head to the council website.
SPEERS POINT, LAKE MACQUARIE
We had a day trip from Sydney to this park to meet Grandma. The park is extensive with lots of accessible features including a Liberty Swing (wheelchair swing), water features, musical instruments, a quiet zone and more.
There is a take-away kiosk and eat-in cafe run by the Salvation Army. The menu includes the usual take-away treats like coffee, ice creams and fish and chips.
For children able to ride bikes (younger children) there is a fantastic area with a ‘road’ including traffic signs. It looked like lots of fun and a good place to practise wheelchair driving. There are large unisex disabled toilet facilities accessible with the MLAK key. For more information head to their website
Tamworth Marsupial Park
Tamworth Marsupial Park’s Adventure Playground opened in October 2015 and is an all abilities playground. I have not visited this playground and park but it sounds like a lovely mix of animal exhibits and a modern playground including a wheelchair accessible carousel.
You can read more about this wonderful looking park here.
We were about a week too early to see Boundless open. Like any good investigative reporter I stood on tables with a telephoto lens and took photos anyway. Boundless I am sure is one of Canberra’s most popular parks because it is located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. This whole area is wonderfully wheelchair accessible with concrete paths and level walkways.
Boundless has a wheelchair carousel, nest swing, sway see-saw and easy access all around. I would love to share more information but we haven’t visited since it opened.
For more information about Boundless head to their website.
Kurrawa All Abilities Playground, Broadbeach
For BJ’s 18th birthday we were meeting family with younger children and headed to Kurrawa Playground. We were impressed with the dual flying fox, Jenn swings, sway rocker, nest swing and the communication boards dotted around the park.
The park also has a large MLAK keyed change facility with adult size change table.
For more information about Kurrawa All Abilities Playground head to the Gold Coast Council website.
Brisbane City Council seem to be making a great effort to make parks and playgrounds accessible. Hubby has checked out the All Abilities Playground and Whites Hill Reserve so I could report on the facilities.
Hubby was impressed with the beautiful location of the All Abilities Playground in Brisbane Botanic Gardens and said it is a great place for families to get a break from the busy city. Brisbane City Council describe 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.”
I have a full blog post dedicated to the All Abilities Playground if you would like more information.
WHITES HILL RESERVE
It is fantastic to see so many playgrounds adopting the communication boards like this one at Whites Hill Reserve. I also love this water play area which can be accessed by children with or without a wheelchair. It is under shade cover and what could be better than water play on a hot Queensland summer day?
Bonython Park Playground
I asked Hubby to check out this park while he was in Adelaide. There is a wheelchair accessible carousel, water play troughs, communication boards and a nest swing.
Hubby was impressed with the wheelchair accessible pathways and park lands surrounding the park but the playground is not fenced.
You can read more about Bonython Park and watch a short video on the playground’s features here.
Livvi’s Place Casey, Lyndhurst
This is the newest playground opened by Touched By Olivia and if the photos of the opening are anything to go by, it is going to be embraced by the locals. I hear that some of the wheelchair facilities are still on the way including wheelchair accessible water and sand troughs. In the meantime, there is a wheelchair accessible carousel, nest swing and a change table in the bathroom facilities.
When we go to Victoria I am looking forward to check this one out so I can share more photos. Photos supplied by Touched by Olivia Foundation.
Livvi’s Place Ballarat was recently opened (March 2016)
For more information about other Livvi’s Playgrounds around Australia and future projects, head to the Touched by Olivia website.
As a great admirer of Diana, Princess of Wales, I would love to visit this playground. It is described on the website as follows;
“A huge wooden pirate ship is the amazing centrepiece of the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground. This children’s wonderland opened on the 30th June 2000, in memory of the late Princess. Located next to her Kensington Palace home, the playground is a fitting tribute for a Princess who loved the innocence of childhood.”
“The design has created an area where less able and able-bodied children can play together and seeks to provide for the physical, creative, social and educational development of your children. Inspired by the stories of Peter Pan, the playground encourages children to explore and follow their imaginations, learning whilst they play.”
For more information about the Diana Memorial Playground please check their website. Photo from Diana Memorial Playground website.
SANTA MONICA – South Beach Park Playground.
We were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet one of our facebook families for an afternoon of fun while we were in Santa Monica. There was a lot of chatting, comparing of healthcare services and of course a play at the all abilities park which is classified as Santa Monica but is pretty close to the Venice Beach border. We were walking for quite a while.
I think they could have done more with this park for children who need to remain in their wheelchairs but that is a common problem with playgrounds. Our little facebook friends seemed to have lots of fun and it was great sharing the adventure with them.
There are ramps for access to the pirate ship, a sway fun see-saw, musical equipment and swings which are easier than the average to use. Santa Monica has magical sunsets so it is the perfect spot to end the day.
For more information about the playground’s location head to the Santa Monica website.
MORE US ACCESSIBLE PLAYGROUNDS
Here is a link to an extensive list of inclusive and accessible playgrounds compiled by The Play and Playground News Center.
KENOSHA DREAM PLAYGROUD PROJECT
I have been watching one particular project in the US with great interest. The Kenosha Dream Playground project in Kenosha WI is an accessible and inclusive playground on a grand scale. It is still being constructed but every week I can see it coming together to be a place that will be envied around the world. Some of the considerations and inclusions are as follows;
* Smooth, solid surfacing for easier maneuverability
* Bird’s nest swings (2)
* Wheelchair swing
* Wheelchair accessible merry-go-round
* Commingled swings, side-by-side regular & adaptive swings
* Braille & sign language alphabets
* Specialty slides that do not produce electrostatic, which could interfer
with hearing aids & cochlear implants
If you would like to follow this project head to the Kenosha Dream Playground Project facebook page which is updated regularly.
MORGAN’S WONDERLAND, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Our facebook friends rave about Morgan’s Wonderland. I hope to one day head there to check it out myself. For more information about Morgan’s Wonderland check their website.
AROUND THE WORLD
I would love to keep adding to this post until we have a comprehensive list of accessible and inclusive playgrounds around the world. Thankfully there are organisations like Touched by Olivia and Shane’s Inspiration doing their best to ensure all children can play. Both these organisations were started by parents who had lost a child and wanted to create a lasting legacy. Justine from Touched By Olivia has shared her family’s story in a guest blog which you can read here.
Shane’s Inspiration shares that they started their quest when “In 1997, Shane Alexander Williams came into his parents’ lives for a beautiful but brief moment. Born with spinal muscular atrophy, Shane passed away two weeks after his birth. Through their profound grief, Catherine Curry-Williams and Scott Williams began searching for a way to honor their son’s life. They soon realized that Shane’s disability would have prevented him from playing on a playground with other children. At that time, there were no truly accessible playgrounds in the Western United States.
So a year later, Catherine, Scott, and close friend Tiffany Harris, were rallying friends, family, and community leaders to build the very first Universally Accessible Playground in California. In 2000, they cut the ribbon on “Shane’s Inspiration Playground” in LA’s Griffith Park, beginning a wave of inclusive play that would change our city forever.”
You can visit Shane’s Inspiration for an extensive list of playgrounds they have built here. Shane’s Inspiration’s reach is vast, including areas of the US, Mexico, Canada and Ecuador.
LIBERTY SWING LOCATIONS
A list of Liberty Swing locations can be found on their website here.
Lastly, there was a great article written by Resources for Parents listing their 30 most impressive playgrounds worldwide. The majority are in the US but Israel, Australia and the UK make the list.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope that you manage to get out as a family and enjoy the pleasure of an accessible and inclusive playground. If you do, we’d love you to share some photos and if you know of an inclusive playground that is not listed please let me know.
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