Fair Play for Children News — Disabled Children Have a Right to Play

Jan Cosgrove
Mar 5, 2018 · 3 min read

Andre Jackson is a freelance writer, with interests in daily living, mobility aid and the UK business sector. He has been writing for the past three years and is always looking for new collaborations with small businesses in the United Kingdom and also across Europe.

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Every child has a right to play and that includes those with any kind of disability. However, the Case for Play report, which looked at play opportunities for 570,000 disabled children in England and Wales, suggested that the right may not be fully inclusive. It found that 90% of parents with disabled children think their children don’t have the same play opportunities as those without disabilities.

There are many barriers and challenges which must be overcome, reasons and opportunities to encourage play and make it possible for disabled children, as this post details.

Importance of Playing

Playing is important for the healthy development of all children. It helps contribute towards the cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of children, while improving engagement for parents as well. For disabled children it holds extra importance to create a good sense of wellbeing, normalcy and inclusion as well.

Changing lifestyles mean that play time has reduced for a lot of children, with the added challenges for disabled children further cutting it down in many cases. These can range from both parents working full-time to family structure changes and a lack of infrastructure for disabled children to play.

Barriers to Overcome

The Case for Play report found that about half of disable children had been turned away from play areas. This was for a variety of reasons such as:

· Incorrect notions regarding health and safety

· Inaccessible play facilities

· Lack of funding for improvements

· Negative public attitudes

These are all barriers which need to be addressed in different manners to provide disabled children with the same right to play. Improvements from national to local government along with creating a more inclusive environment among children’s groups must be made.

Encourage Outdoor Play

As parents of disabled children, it is important to help break down such barriers by any means necessary. Encourage outdoor play, as this not only has the benefits of providing fresh air and exercise, but it can create a sense of normality.

If it is a physical disability then this can prove more challenging, but there are mobility solutions out there to help make it a lot easier. Have a look for the most accessible playgrounds nearby or if there are any with specific disability-friendly facilities that will provide the most encouragement.

Games for All

To improve the social side of play, there are many games all children can play. Some may require organisation and leadership from an adult, while others are simple enough to teach and let kids get on playing together without instruction.

‘Wink murder’ is an easy guessing game that requires everyone to be sat in a circle and no movement. The majority of board games can be enjoyed by all, while for more active games you could set up a target for throwing bean bags at, with each ring representing different scores.

Enjoy Unstructured Activities

Unstructured play is important for the development and independence of all children too. It can help build a greater sense of inclusion, with less need for a parent to be constantly present. As long as it takes place in an accessible environment and any disabled children have everything they need then this is highly possible. Games such as hide-and-seek are perfect for this.

Disabled children have as much of a right to play as others. As a parent you can help break down these barriers and deliver the best environment possible for them to develop and, most importantly, have a fun time.

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