By Lisa KadaneUpdated Dec 03, 2020
Every kid loves to play, and these inclusive play parks across the country make sure that physical differences never get in the way of fun.
With an ocean view, nearby pool and tennis courts, and green space all around, this accessible playground rounds out one of Vancouver’s top recreation hubs at Kitsilano Beach. The legacy project of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games features an accessible sand play table, spinning climber and saucer swings. A rubber safety surface allows children, parents or caregivers with physical disabilities access to all of the playground structures, and accessible washrooms are located nearby.
The mountain views and inclusive nature of this playground—one of three accessible parks built in honour of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games—are what make it stand out. Its multi-sensory wall was inspired by the resort’s prominent skyline, while the main attraction, a large, accessible tree house, is a nod to Whistler’s forests. Other features include a rubberized surface, rope climber, slide and swings, plus seating integrated into the design so parents can comfortably enjoy a coffee while the kids get their yayas out.
This playground was cutting edge when it opened in southeast Calgary in 2013, and its apparatuses, such as the flying fox zipline, still inspire playground envy. A lot of thought went into making it accessible, too. Adapted features include wheelchair-accessible sway equipment, an accessible swing and an accessible climber with ramps that lead to musical, imaginative play, puzzle and educational panels. A pour-in-place recycled tire surface lets children with mobility issues access everything, including a music area with drums. Finally, swings and spinners appeal to children with autism and sensory needs.
More: Calgary Playground Review
There’s so much packed in to this playground—a pirate ship climber, natural-looking rock climbing area, and giant enclosed slide accessible by a net—it’s almost overwhelming. But the non-accessible features are well balanced with nice touches such as shaded picnic tables, a contoured, poured-in-place surface with small rises, a special needs swing, and even an accessible slide. An inclusive, dragon-themed splash park rounds out the summer fun and makes it worth the drive from Edmonton.
This award-winning playground features play structures designed to encourage creative play for kids of all abilities while at the same time telling the story of The Forks (a historic meeting place in downtown Winnipeg). The park’s entire surface is wheelchair accessible and leads kids and adults through a fort, into a wheelchair-accessible canoe, by a colourful train, over to the mini French Quarter, through a splash park and past a row of rainbow-hued drums. There’s a ton to see, do and learn for everyone.
This brightly hued playground has an accessible trampoline and a poured-in-place rubber surface that looks like grass and water and is easy to cross with a mobility device. There are accessible swings and toddler slides, and a music area and sand play section for sensory integration and stimulation. Children without mobility challenges will love the natural climbing area, dueling towers and spinners.
When Sacha Chenier, a boy with severe physical disabilities, passed away in 2014 at age 11, his family built a playground in his memory that wouldn’t bar any child from the fun. Sacha’s Park, which opened in 2017, is a play park without any stairs, and the play structure ramps lead to accessible interpretive panels, some that teach signing and braille. There’s a glider that can hold wheelchairs, an adaptive sand shovel, and a rollerslide, which is a static-free slide that’s safe for kids with cochlear implants. An elevated sand-and-water table aids sensory play, and a section with accessible instruments encourages all children to make music.
Billed as Canada’s first accessible playground when it opened in 2011, this playground at Davisville and Yonge in Oriole Park has been designed with a “zero-rejection policy;” meaning, all kids should be able to play here without limitations. The pressed rubber surface is wheelchair accessible and so is the adjacent splash park. There’s plenty of sensory play equipment for kids with autism, from spinners and swings for vestibular stimulation to instruments, such as giant chimes and mallets. Accessible, tactile learning panels teach braille, sign language and musical notes.
When a local mom asked the mayor for an adaptive swing for her child with special needs, he decided to build her an entire park. So goes the story behind Parc Wilson, an accessible playground in one of Montreal’s boroughs. Kids with mobility issues can be part of the fun thanks to a poured-in-place rubber surface, accessible splash park and ramps that lead to tactile walls, panels, gears and binoculars installed at the right level for a seated child. There’s also a wheelchair-accessible challenge course, options for musical play, a wheelchair-accessible shovel for the sand area and a unique fossil and sand table for sensory play. The park even caters to parents—an Expression swing lets Mom or Dad swing with their tot while facing him or her.
All children can take flight at this accessible playground, built around an airport theme with play structures including a simulated control tower, runway and emergency fire trucks. The playground is enclosed to offer a safe environment for visually impaired children and includes tactile markers and audible cues to help them navigate inside the space. There are accessible swings, ground-level panels and bells and drums for music making. The coolest feature, though, is the mobility course. It’s been designed to help wheelchair users improve their skills by challenging them to navigate over and through various surfaces and obstacles, from gravel to asphalt to concrete curbs, small hills and even doors that swing in and out.
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