Today we went to Hay’s Paddock, a playground which describes itself as “the first community playground designed so that all children, regardless of their physical or intellectual ability, can play on an equal basis”.
And, wow. It sure lived up to the hype!
In fact, this isn’t the first time I visited this playground. I visited it about 7 years ago, when it had not long opened, with a friend and her young child.
This was LONG before kids were anywhere on my agenda and I’d actually forgotten about it until quite recently.
This tells you two things. Firstly, that I have a terrible memory, but secondly and more importantly, accessibility didn’t mean much to me then. As I guess it doesn’t probably mean much to many parents whose kids can scramble up narrow ladders and across rope walkways.
But this is no ‘special needs’ playground. Unlike some playgrounds I’ve seen with the larger harnessed swings, this swing is not separated from the others. The accessibility is not pointed and obvious. It’s just really well designed.
There are signs in braille and picture images as well as words. There are lots of things to hit and tap and touch, rampways that take you to the top of slides and lots of lots of lovely soft surfaces for those who fall a lot.
What struck me most about this playground wasn’t how well it really does cater for ‘all children’, but how well it does so without seeming to.
It’s just such a natural, asthetically pleasing design that just works, for everyone.
And what else I loved about it was for some reason, this playground seemed to extend that inclusive vibe to all the kids playing there.
Not one kid asked about BC’s walker. Not one kid even stopped to stare at it. BC was just another one of the kids, having a ball in the park.
We loved the playground. Both BC and Bean. We would love to see a whole lot more just like it all around the city (no, all around the WORLD!).
5 stars to you Hays Paddock *****