Meaningful play is critical throughout childhood and beyond. It helps all children to develop physical, social-emotional, sensory, cognitive, and communication skills. Through play, children develop these skills, gradually mastering their behavior and abilities as they enter into situations that make them feel powerful, active, and competent.
This view of children as powerful, not passive, supports the importance for children with disabilities to experience the capacity of their own actions, to make sense of events and situations, and to understand how choices affect themselves and others - creating a sense of ownership in play. Through independent participation in play, children secure these developmental benefits, improving their overall physical health, their psychological and emotional well-being.
Designing for the Developmental Needs of Every Child, Every Ability
Like every child, play is important to children with disabilities. The child's right to equality of opportunity, active participation, and independence in play implies the promise that children should not be held back because of their disabilities. While necessary, the removal of physical barriers to access in play environments does not guarantee social inclusion, or the opportunity to fully and actively participate. Addressing the developmental needs of the whole child helps create inclusively designed whole environments that support the needs of the whole community.
Sources for this article can be found in Me2®: The 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design. Learn more our inclusion solution here or read more about Understanding the Whole Child Development.