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Accessible Playgrounds meeting 2011

Notes from meeting with Jan Mackie and Jim on April 27, 2011 at Dufferin. 04-Feb-2013 [8449]

On Mon, May 9, 2011 at 10:02 AM, Leslie Lindsay wrote:

Jan Mackie is the founder of Spiral Gardens Playground, an accessible playground for wheelchairbound children and youth. The aim of the playground is to engage the senses, and provide a rich sensory experience for the participants through sound or touch or scent even when mobility is challenged. Jan described what they had done at Spiral Gardens and also offered suggestions as to what we could do at Dufferin to increase accessibility.

At Spiral Gardens, a lot was accomplished through building with found materials and inexpensive finds. Water play was introduced with split bamboo poles, to channel the direction to where it would be most needed, fabric was hung from trees to stroke skin, a couch was made out of straw bales and sod, for example.

For Dufferin, we could do similar things with bamboo for water play, mount a tactile labyrinth on the fence with string, hang fabric strips for a wheelchair to pass under, mount a sensory chart on the fence out of different materials for fingers to explore, make an accessible garden with plants with different tactile properties( eg lamb's ears for touch, herbs for scent, flowers for colour), a sound mobile out of spoons. Bigger projects would be building a wooden bridge that is safe for wheelchairs and making the paths level with crushed limestone screenings.

Jan emphasizes that education of staff is important in order to engage the caregivers and also enage the kids, the able bodied ones and the challenged ones. It is important to ask caregivers and kids what it is that they need in the playground to make it possible for them to use it. Ultimately the aim of the playground is to make the activities attractive for all kids to use, to enable kids to connect and play back and forth.

We are left with questions, such as, where are the kids that the playground will be designed for? And, how do we find them?

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