The Importance of Play
Play is important for all children. Through play, children develop the skills they need for life; learning to socialise and interact with others, developing creativity and imagination while helping with emotional and cognitive growth.
Play gives children opportunities to take risks and challenges in a safe environment. Besides the obvious benefits of movement, exercise and fitness, physical play also provides the building blocks for a child’s complete physical development, from balance, vision and hearing, to tactile learning and sensory integration.
What is Inclusive Play?
Inclusive play creates an environment sensitive to the needs of anyone who might use the space; providing a welcoming place where people feel comfortable yet challenged, and removing obstacles and barriers that prevent people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and abilities (both physical and mental) from participating. More than simply providing disabled access, inclusive play provides parallel play and social interaction opportunities to bring children of all abilities together.
Inclusive Play – 2021 and Beyond
Inclusive Play guidelines are being introduced in most states in Australia, with a commitment to set best practice recommendations so that playgrounds and recreational facilities are accessible and inviting to all.
The release of the NSW “Everyone can Play” guidelines outlines the key principles of inclusive playspaces and provides best practise recommendations and tools to encourage the creation of more inclusive playspaces. It is intended to help designers and those planning playspaces to do the best with what they have, within the budget and site constraints they are faced with.
It’s important to note that inclusion is a sliding scale; not all playspaces can cater to everyone. Current playspace design theory and an acknowledgment of how universal design creates comfortable and inclusive places are the driving principles behind the “Everyone Can Play” guidelines.
Not everyone has the luxury to completely overhaul their facilities overnight, however a few small upgrades can make a huge difference to children being able to play together and for their playspaces to become more inclusive.
Upgrading an Existing Space
Upgrade existing pathways to accommodate wheelchair and stroller access through the use of concrete, rubber or compacted hard surfaces
Introduce signage to help users navigate their way through the recreational space – especially useful for visitors with sensory impairment – to contribute to a sense of comfort, safety and security.
Add Inclusive Play elements
Truly inclusive play equipment involves children of all abilities playing together – laughing and socialising together without prejudice. From accessible equipment to sensory panels and active play such as rebounding platforms and carousels, there are a number of ways you can bring a few inclusive play pieces into the recreational space to improve overall inclusivity.
Inclusive Play Product Recommendation
The Inclusive Orbit 2.0 features upgraded angular stainless-steel safety railing to deliver a contemporary aesthetic while giving children safe access to an incredible, ability-driven spinning carousel experience.
Complete with smooth rotating bearings below ground level, the flooring deck sits flush to the surrounding surfacing to allow easy access and transition for all users without ramps or trip points.
As a stand-alone playground element, the Inclusive Orbit can be installed and integrated into an existing playground space, fulfilling community needs for inclusive options without the need to overhaul the entire playspace.
As an activity, spinning helps children learn about the cause-and-effect relationships of body position and movement as they play. With no limits to the speed they can achieve, this carousel provides a versatile and innovative way to explore vestibular movement and challenge themselves.
Supported by a strong galvanised steel sub-frame, the inclusive orbit deck sits flush with the surrounding ground level to allow all-abilities and wheelchair platform access. The textured deck surface gives users sure footing in all-weather conditions, while the stainless steel handrails and support bars give all users numerous self-securing options.
With provision for multiple users, key features include;
- One wheelchair, one standing and one seated bay
- Manufactured in the UK, backed by our Australian warranty and maintenance team
- Low ongoing maintenance costs and greaseable stainless bearings
- A world-class, highly engineered unit, compliant with Australian Playground Standards (AS4685:2014) and (EN1176:2008)
The Inclusive Orbit comes complete with a full set of straightforward installation documentation, allowing you or your team to install on-site with ease.
- Covered by 15-year warranty on the steel sub-frame
- 5 year warranty on the platform and seating panels
- 25 year warranty on all stainless steel elements
Inclusive Play Product Recommendation
Trampolines are fun. That’s a fact! But did you know that while you’re having fun, you’re helping to strengthen muscles, develop balance and fine-tune your coordination?
Rebound therapy is using a bouncing platform to target motor skill development such as balance while sitting, kneeling, standing and walking, functional transfers such as rolling and sit to stand and aerobic activity such as jumping.
Rebound Therapy can provide multiple benefits including the development and improvement of bone and joint strength, improved coordination and balance, heightened self-confidence and sensory stimulation.
Using a rebounding platform is effective in preventing osteoporosis and other bone degenerative diseases through exposure to Vitamin D and low impact exercise! Unlike most exercise, rebounding strengthens your bones and muscles without the risk of injury to weight bearing joints such as the knees, ankles, hips and back.
Regular rebounding conditions your body to react quickly and build your agility, balance and coordination while improving cross-patterning and communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. Improved blood circulation, endorphin release and a sense of achievement are additional benefits!
Suitable for both supervised and unsupervised play areas, AirJumpers can be installed in public parks, school playgrounds, recreation clubs and caravan parks and shopping centres to name just a few.
But you don’t have to stop at just one AirJumper! These safe in-ground rebounding platforms can be laid out in a series to encourage social and collaborative play.
Designed and manufactured in Australia, AirJumpers occupy minimal space and can easily be added to existing spaces or included with new playground designs. The reinforced mats are made from repurposed material that is exceptionally durable with lifespans of over twenty years. Mat removal for maintenance is easy to perform and should mat replacement ever be required, the frame can remain in place.
For children with special needs these benefits can have much more of an impact.
Children with physical disabilities are challenged with movement limitations, affecting their ability to participate in sport and day-to-day activities, which can result in a lack of confidence and willingness to try.
Non-physical benefits include improving communication and eye contact, teaching patience and independence while delivering a sense of achievement and freedom of movement.
Rebounding platforms provide active sensory stimulation that can help kids with special needs – particularly those who have sensory disorders – to interpret physical and environmental stimuli more effectively. The rhythmic bouncing and physical sensations of jumping and falling can help children with sensory disorders to align with their sensory systems and improve their motor skills or a focused activity to do when they may feel over-stimulated elsewhere.
The low impact movement helps to strengthen bones and joints while keeping them protected.
Rebounding also involves using both sides of the body at the same time, which can improve childrens’ bilateral motor skills, which in turn leads to improved co-ordination, better muscle control, better dexterity and improved kinaesthetic awareness.
AirJumpers’ wheelchair friendly mats are suitable for both supervised and unsupervised areas. The springs are concealed by a 2.5 mm galvanised steel frame, complete with impact protection padding.
The Inclusive Orbit
The Inclusive Orbit offers a sensory rich and inclusive play experience – allowing children of all abilities to develop the strong sensory and motor systems that are so vital for their futures.
The motion of spinning offers vestibular and proprioceptive stimulation as users experiment with centrifugal force, and the cause and the effect of body weight and positioning in motion. Allowing every child to experience the thrill of sensory-motor play transforms the playground into a remarkable space where children can develop their bodies, brains and self-esteem, laying the foundations for healthy, interactive lives.
All children need play to enhance their individual development and the Inclusive Orbit brings inclusive play to a higher level encouraging collaborative play for users regardless of ability.
Children with a range of developmental disorders directly benefit from the motion of spinning, including Sensory Processing Disorder, Down Syndrome, and Autism. Spina Bifida, Muscle Weakness, Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy limit mobility and the wheelchair bay affords an opportunity for all children to be equal through play.
How does the Inclusive Orbit build sensory awareness and brain and physical development?
The motion of spinning activates core muscle groups as users shift their weight to maintain balance. Children adapt the amount of force required to spin at a pace that works for them and their friends – adjusting their muscle contractions accordingly
Spinning increases vestibular tolerance – playing a critical role in normal motor development, motion tolerance, gaze stabilisation and focus, postural control and spatial orientation
Essential life systems such as respiration, gastrointestinal and heart rate are directly affected by the vestibular “sense organ”, influencing overall sensory processing and general states of awareness
Development of visual skills and perception of objects relative to other visually perceived objects – known as visual localisation – is developed and maintained through movement and spinning
Initiating and maintaining the spinning motion of the Inclusive Orbit – as well as entering and exiting the equipment – allows users to develop motor planning skills; essential for all physical activities and training the body to move in the way we want it to
Multi-sensory stimulation is integrated in the brain requiring touch, movement, vision and hearing for good planning and sequencing
The different bays – standing, seated and wheelchair – of the Inclusive Orbit allows for children and adults of all abilities to spin and interact together – eliminating bias and exclusion
Children learn tolerance and understanding as they adjust the speed and motion to consider the needs of younger and less able-bodied users
Users laughing and sharing experiences helps us to bond socially. Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins, improving digestive function, heart and lung issues and pain perception.