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Developmental Disabilities Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Month. It’s time to celebrate our local parks for bringing together people with and without disabilities to form strong, diverse communities.

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions that contribute to an impairment in physical development, learning, language, or behavior. Developmental disabilities begin any time during the early years of life and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Developmental disabilities occur among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Recent estimates in the United States show that about one in six, or 15%, of children aged 3 through 17 years have one or more developmental disabilities, such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities.

Children and adults with disabilities have the same needs as everyone else—to stay well and active. One aspect of leading an active life is joining community activities with friends and families; one of the best places to do that is at a playground.

Communities are getting better at designing playgrounds that meet everyone’s needs. One of the most successful strategies for bringing children of all abilities together is adding a variety cooperative play activities to a playground. Cooperative play is when children solve a problem by working together to achieve a common goal. According to Mildren Parten’s research on the stages of play, cooperative play is important because it allows children to learn social rules such as sharing, taking turns, listening to one another, and dealing with disagreements. Her research also demonstrates that this type of play leads to the development of meaningful friendships.

Miracle Recreation has committed to developing equipment that enables children of all abilities to work together. Some of these inclusive pieces, in addition to requiring children to work together, provide input to a child’s vestibular system. The vestibular system contributes to our balance and our sense of where our body is in space. It provides the most input about movement in the body, and works with the auditory and visual systems to give accurate information to the brain about the direction the body is moving. It’s important for the development of balance, coordination, eye control, attention, and some aspects of language development.

Here are four of Miracle’s cooperative play, inclusive pieces.

Inclusive Whirl

This modified traditional whirl is built flush with the ground. It allows up to two wheelchair users to wheel right on—no transferring required. Their friends can stand next to them, holding on to the sloping handrails or sitting on the small seat. Other people can join in on the fun by pushing the whirl around. With room for nine children, this spinner brings everyone together to experience a thrilling centripetal sensation.

Accelerator  Swing

Built with a large disc and protective rubber bumper, this group swing incorporates the motion of a traditional swing with the added fun of interactivity. It provides an inclusive motion experience with opportunities for both physical and social skill development. Swinging provides a child’s nervous system with continuous information for processing. As children swing, they gain an understanding of how their bodies move through space, and a sense of how much speed they’re comfortable with. The swinging, rocking motion is also very calming—especially for children with developmental disabilities. Whether lying down, sitting down, or standing up, every child can find a way to swing.

Alta Glide

This swaying, bouncing, wheelchair-accessible glider makes play exciting for all kids. The push-pull motion helps kids develop balance, coordination, eye tracking, and muscle tone. Wheelchair access ensures that all children have the chance to feel the exhilaration of moving through space in fun, enriching ways.

Concerto

The Concerto line of outdoor musical equipment allows children of all ages and abilities to experience the fun and joy of making music. The equipment is designed at the perfect angle to enable children who are using wheelchairs to roll right to the instrument.

As you can see in this video, children can work together to create beautiful music.

Share with us your favorite inclusive playground equipment or tell us about a special playground in your community that brings together people to form strong, diverse communities.