Making disability-friendly playgrounds: Children with Disability NZ Our mission is to make New Zealand the most disabled child friendly region in the world! Search for: Promoting Accessible Inclusive Playgrounds Lack of disability-friendly playgrounds: We Find It Hard... The mother of a 9-year-old who suffers from a chromosome abnormality in Whangārei is disappointed playgrounds for children with disabilities aren't user-friendly, despite the district having 36 playgrounds and four skateboard parks.An OIA request filed with the Ministry of Health reveals there are 372 children under 18 in Whangārei (799 in Northland and 13,960 in New Zealand) who are allocated disability support through Needs Assessment Service Coordination Services as of August 2, 2021. Donate Now Children's Testimonials " I want to play with my friends just like the other kids; just remember me when designing your playgrounds and make me feel included." - Cyrus. Playgrounds Lack Of Disability - Friendly Playgrounds: Thanks To The Northern Advocate: The mother of a 9-year-old who suffers from a chromosome abnormality in Whangārei is disappointed playgrounds for children with disabilities aren't user-friendly, despite the district having 36 playgrounds and four skateboard parks. An OIA request filed with the Ministry of Health reveals there are 372 children in Whangārei (799 in Northland and 13,960 in New Zealand) under 18s who are allocated disability support through Needs Assessment Service Coordination Services as of August 2, 2021.Whangārei District Council parks and recreation manager Sue Hodge said on the very limited mobility end, the town only has the Town Basin. "At the Town Basin, we have tried to come up with a design which provides a range of options for children with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers to play together."Whangārei's Town Basin reopened in January this year after the six-month project was completed. The redeveloped playground, which cost more than $1 million, was designed to cater to a range of ages and abilities and the expansive playground incorporated inground trampolines, a climbing circuit, combo swings, a two-story slide tower, and several play features involving sound with bongo drums, talking tubes and other music makers - all with new safety matting and under multiple shade sails. The 1st Of October 2021... However, WDC removed the liberty swing during the redesigning and the popular chime musical instruments were also eliminated from the playground just three months after it opened following complaints from nearby residents and workers.Hodge said the project team felt the liberty swing was more exclusive, rather than inclusive and the team tried to incorporate more inclusive play equipment in the playground so the whole family could play together. Ruakākā resident Kylee Ostermann used to bring her son Alex to the Town Basin Playground who loved the wheelchair swing and was heartbroken when it was removed. A child with special needs requires love "A child with special needs requires love, guidance, encouragement, positive influence and a life teacher just like all other children." -Kylee Ostermann. Playgrounds Looking Around... Testing It Out: Ostermann teamed up with disability advocate Glen McMillan to start a Northland-based charity, Children with Disability New Zealand, particularly for the kids. Ostermann said the children's playgrounds in the region weren't inclusive and weren't accessible on a wheelchair."The Town Basin playground is the most accessible playground, and yet it does not have enough play equipment for kids with disabilities."The basket swing could not be used by children who have cerebral palsy or those who had no balance; the spinner was not very easy to push; and the slope made it a difficult wheelchair ride, said Ostermann."You can lift an infant and place it on a swing, but how do you lift an adolescent or teenager?" Imagine the plight of a parent who brings their disabled child to the park only to watch other kids play. It is very difficult for the child and also for the parents." Alex Aged 9 On The Wheelchair-Accessible Spinner! Whangārei Playgrounds... While the Town Basin playground had numat surfacing, making it more accessible for wheelchairs and buggies, a majority of the other playgrounds had wood chips in the play area, which blocked access for children with disabilities. The play areas at Mair Park, Puriri Park, Laurie Hall Park, Panorama Drive, Kensington Park, Mander Park, Onerahi Sherwood Park, McLeod Bay Park, and Ngunguru Reserve Park do not have wheelchair access. Ostermann said it was arduous to push a wheelchair on grass or wood chips.Glen McMillan said there was a big difference between the point of view of what the council considered accessible and what the disability community does. "When they removed the swing, they claimed it was not inclusive. Not inclusive is taking it away. People with disabilities often feel dizzy on some of the existing play equipment. The chimes were good, but because of the complaints, they had to remove them too."The council then put up a 15-cm rim around the whole park in Tikipunga, and kids with disabilities cannot get in. It is the case with many other parks in Whangārei."With regards to the removal of the liberty swing, McMillan said the council kept it locked, and people who wished to access it had to collect a key from the i-site. Kylee and Alex aged 9 testing out the accessibility of Whangārei playgrounds! Children's Testimonials " Just because I can't walk doesn't mean I can't play..." -Alex. Playgrounds Join Us & Make A Diffrence: The Process... "The council said to us that they kept it locked to prevent vandalism. But anyone other than the disabled kids can easily climb up the swing." "The staff were not trained; they did not know where they kept the key." Children with Disability chief executive Glen McMillan said the charity was formed because "we felt we needed more for our community, especially for our disability community, and our charity is all about inclusion. Inclusion is the keyword. "There's a lot of depression with moms who have disabled children because there isn't much for them to do." "There aren't any disability-friendly playgrounds in Whangārei, and that is what we are trying to create." The basket swing is absolutely useless for children with disabilities." You can help a toddler up the swing, but what about a 9-year-old, probably weighing 30kg? How are you supposed to lift your child into that? And if you are on an oxygen tank or if your child has no head control, which a lot of kids suffering from cystic fibrosis have, how are you supposed to help them on a basket swing? "Actually, it is very un-user-friendly." I would question the council about going with the mother of a disabled child and seeing the struggles they face." Northland Parafed Active Recreation and Community Sports Coordinator Sharon Carroll said people often have the misconception that we've got to do a playground and it has to be for those who belong to the disability criteria. " But actually, when you make a playground accessible, it has to be accessible to all, whether it is a person with disabilities or an elderly person. You have to keep in mind that you are making it accessible for the community. "It is a real challenge, and I understand the council may have funding challenges." But it is very important to make sure that the spaces are being able to be used by everybody, the whole community is included. "If you have got three kids coming to the playground, you would want equal opportunities for all three of them to play, regardless of whether they have a disability or not." - Mander Park Playground and Kensington Park Playground Photography By Michael Cunningham! Being a special needs parent " As parents of children with special needs, we do not have the power to make life "fair," but we do have the power to make life joyful." -Kylee Ostermann. Playgrounds Make It Wheelchair Friendly & Accessible: An Accessible Inground Trampoline Is One Of The Items We Asked For... Of the 103 total walking and tramping parks on areas of public conservation land administered by the Department of Conservation, only six are wheelchair and buggy accessible. Pohe Island destination playground development plan An area next to the Hātea Loop and the new Pohe Island skatepark will be home to an exciting destination playground. Contractors United Civil Construction has started preparing the site for the construction of the new Pohe Island playground.The Pohe Island destination playground will be completed in 2022, and once finished, it will be a destination play experience for locals and visitors alike, featuring climbing structures, slides, a large sandpit, many swings, new toilets, and space to run around. Whangārei District Council parks and recreation manager Sue Hodge said they had made some changes to the playground design following a consultation with an independent Disability Advisory Group run by Glen McMillan, our CEO. The Outcome: "We plan to relocate the sensory equipment (musical equipment) that was removed from the Town Basin to Pohe Island." There will be long, textured, colored straps providing sensory play under one of the large towers. Adjacent is a basket swing set at a height to accommodate those with physical restrictions. The basket moves gently, and this is a potential "quiet space" for children. "In the sandpit, we have provided a table accessible from the synthetic surface at wheelchair height where sand play can happen." There will be sand toys attached to the table. "We are also installing a wheelchair trampoline and another wheelchair-accessible carousel, similar to the Town Basin one."