Every child needs a childhood

Rebecca Highton by Rebecca Highton Additional Needs

Rebecca Highton

Rebecca Highton

I am a mum of twins, one has special needs. I enjoy blogging about life and the reality of parenting.

‘Every’ is the key word in that sentence.

But you go to a park and what is there to play on for a child with special needs? In most parks, the answer is nothing. In very few parks, the answer is a basket swing. There is little more than that. And how is that fair?

Every child wants to be able to go to a park and play.

How hard is it to add a few pieces that children with additional needs can use? Whether that be a swing that is suitable for a wheelchair, or a swing that can be adapted when using a seat; a round-about that has a space for a wheelchair, or musical/interactive toys; these pieces of equipment are so valued yet so sparse.

Very few places we have been to have had play areas suitable for Alfie, yet the parks that have equipment have been amazing. Not just for Alfie and other children with additional needs, but for ALL children. What child doesn’t like to be able to play with musical toys or interact with other children?

I’ve lost count of the times my heart has broken when Alfie hasn’t been able to join in with Rory and they are not even 3. When all Alfie can do is go on a swing, he is bored within 10 minutes. Yet, if the park had a section with steering wheels and play panels and musical play sections, Alfie would have as much fun as Rory. Not only that, but any child could use the equipment. Not only is it suitable for children with additional needs, it is fun, exciting and different for every child.

After all, children love to make noise and be imaginative.

There is little more exciting and fun for a child than to be able to be as noisy as he likes and free to be creative. To make a park adaptive, accessible and fun doesn’t need to be expensive and complicated, it just needs a little bit of thought, and that little bit of thought goes such a long way.

Not only does making a park accessible mean that children with additional needs can join in, it can help to educate every child. Sensory and musical equipment can educate children, teaching them new skills that are vital for development.

So please, take a look at your local park, is it accessible and inclusive? If not, who can you ask to make a change?

After all, every child needs a childhood.

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