Tuesday 20 August 2019

Local playground sets the national standard

Cllr Jennifer Whitmore
Cllr Jennifer Whitmore

Mary Fogarty

Greystones playground has been selected as a model for inclusivity in an upcoming 'Community Participation' bill to be introduced in the Seanad shortly by independent Senator John Dolan.

According to the National Disability Authority in order for a playground to be considered 'inclusive' it must be designed using the principles of universal design, where children with all abilities can play together and be able to play with equipment which is developmentally appropriate for children with and without disabilities.

'I'm delighted that the new Greystones playground is being cited as an example of what an inclusive playground looks like and how it has benefited many children with disabilities since it first opened,' said Cllr Jennifer Whitmore.

'It shows that other communities can replicate this model for the benefit of so many other children who don't currently have access to inclusive recreational spaces. When we designed the playground in Greystones, the most important principle we applied was that children can play side-by-side - this is what I believe truly makes for an inclusive playground.'

She said that such inclusive playgrounds are not common in other parts of IReland.

'I've heard of people traveling long distances to use our playground just so they can see their able-bodied child play alongside their sibling with a disability. This should not be the case in 2019. We should be progressing more on the issue of inclusivity across all our local facilities and recreational spaces. Everyone benefits when a community is more inclusive.

'I support Senator Dolan's initiative and the many people and groups who have worked alongside him to push for greater community participation for all.'

The bill would require local authorities not only to apply the principles of universal design to build more inclusive playgrounds, it would require them to establish accessible changing facilities, private bus operators licensed by the state to meet accessibility standards as well as ensuring that personal advocates supporting people with disabilities have more statutory powers.

'I hope to see this legislation pass the Seanad and the Dáil and for more initiatives like our inclusive playground in Greystones to be replicated across the country,' said Cllr Whitmore.

Bray People