Celebrating Inclusive Play for All

I just arrived at my hotel in Kelowna, British Columbia. This week in work travel is particularly special, as I’m in Canada celebrating the country’s annual National AccessAbility Week. This momentum was started in parallel to Accessible Canada Act, which went into place in 2019. It focuses on celebrating the contributions of disabled persons across Canada.

While I’m here claiming honorary Canadian status for the week, I’m excited for the series of events that have been organized celebrating inclusive play. I’m here in partnership with Habitat Systems, a playground sales representative based in Vancouver, as they’ve organized a series of play tours across western Canada. Starting on Nanaimo Island, we’ve spent each day showcasing a different inclusive playground, and teaching local designers, municipality workers and parks and recreation professionals some of the intricacies of designing for disability.

Not only have we discussed what makes a play space sensory diverse and meaningful for those joining with a mobility aid, we also spent a dedicated amount of time discussing the origins of the project, as well as designing an inclusive environment.

Today was focused on a small park that packed quite a punch. Featuring extra wide sidewalks, plenty of respite areas, natural shading, and facilities with adult sized changing tables, this small parked tucked back into a neighborhood proved itself inviting to all. Part of my role is to demonstrate how some of these pieces work. I explain the logistics of a transfer and how I would use specific pieces with my mobility devices. This helps inform key city decision makers on how to advocate for as much inclusive design as possible when defining their budget. This has gained such traction with National AccessAbility Week as it coincides with so many initiatives that are driving inclusion and design forward.

Today, a gentleman responsible for designing school play environments proclaimed that he hopes to retire in a year, and he hopes his legacy is centered around all the inclusion he’s brought to play. In celebrating all the different ways people move and lead their most able lives, I’m extremely excited to be taking my Stretto Power Wheelchair with iLevel® to its first inclusive playground next week. It’s proven such a great tool to have around the house (hello, three trash bags at once!). Next week, I am renting an accessible vehicle to lead visitors on a tour-de-inclusive play in the Minneapolis area. It’s certainly going to bring some new perspectives on inclusion and how we can make play better for all!

About Jill Moore White: Jill is an inclusive play specialist, bringing accessible playgrounds to local communities. She volunteers with disability organizations, including the Disability EmpowHER Network. Jill enjoys music, sketching and playing video games. Click here to learn more about Jill.