Children with disabilities need parks in Bangalore too. Thanks to Kilikili, that is no longer a dream!
If you ask a parent what he or she expects from a children’s park, the answers would be hygiene, safety, condition of the equipment and more, but what about inclusiveness? What are the factors that set apart the special needs parks in Bangalore?
These are simple changes — from wheelchair ramps to merry-go-rounds that can accommodate wheelchairs and slides with side protection for children who are sensitive to heights plus the presence of trained staff and volunteers.
In 2006, an organization called the Kilikili Trust came into existence in Bangalore, set up by parents of special needs children to create inclusive play spaces across the city, spaces that are not designed only for special needs children but also for them, making it possible for children with different abilities to play together. Kilikili has in fact been working on a grassroot level, with the BBMP, parent groups, volunteers and special schools.
1. Coles Park
Coles Park is the first inclusive public play space in the country. What makes it unique? Forget the mandatory ramp entrance at the main gate, it has a wheelchair track that runs across the park and will soon have a wheelchair sandpit. How cool is that? It also has swings that have been fitted with safety seats so that children with minimal upper body strength or support can ride in them.
Regular play equipment such as swings and merry-go-rounds have been fitted with safe seats to make children without upper body support feel secure and safe.
Coles Park also has something called a ‘Sensory Integration Track’. What exactly is an SI track? Children should be able to process and integrate signals received through all the senses – sight, touch, sound, body-awareness, gravity and body awareness in a holistic manner. From the soft textures of the sand to the rough texture of the concrete, SI tracks are perfect for children with sensory integration issues, allowing them to normalize their responses to various stimuli.
2. Gayatri Devi Park
What makes Gayatri Devi Park in Rajajinagar special is that apart from inclusive equipment like wheelchair ramps, wheelchair sand tables, an SI track and inclusive basketball grounds with hoops two levels lower for children on wheelchairs, Kilikili conducts activities on inclusion with children of all abilities.
3. MN Krishna Rao Park
Ever noticed the beautiful stationary cycle in MN Krishna Rao Park? This is one of the many attractions in the third inclusive park that was inaugurated in the city in 2010. MN Krishna Rao Park has tyre swings, wheelchair merry-go-rounds, wheel-through arcades with pipes of different textures and widths. The wheelchair accessible play station with sound rods, textured tiles, knots, crosses, an abacus and more is a huge hit with all the kids! It also provides a multi sensorial playing environment.
We asked Kavitha Krishnamoorthy of Kilikili as to what makes a park inclusive. There are innumerable things that go into making a space accessible to children of different abilities. Here are just a few:
- Wheelchair-accessible entrance gates and pathways.
- Non slippery and levelled pathways bordered by a handrail.
- Ramps with railings at entrance gates and play areas.
- Signage also displayed in Braille (English and Kannada).
- Equipment to enable the hearing impaired to learn the names of equipment.
- Availability of wheelchairs or prams at the entrance, under the charge of the watchman/caretaker.
- Swings with flat and bucket seats for children with minimal upper body support.
- Family swings for older children using wheelchairs.
- Tyre swings to enable complete body balance.
- High-backed swings for children requiring upper body support.
- Slides with flat, bar-like steps without gaps between the steps (so that children who cannot see, do not fall). The sliding surface can be with curved sides to make children feel more secure.
- A sensory pathway constructed using different textures such as grass, sand, differently textured tiles etc. embedded in the ground to facilitate tactile sensory stimulation.
- A Sensory Wall constructed using different textures to facilitate tactile sensory stimulation.
- Equipment that creates sound like wind chimes and bells.
- Water activities – fountains.
- Use of colours that are sensitive.
Want to make your nearest park an inclusive one? Local communities are the primary users of the parks and they should get involved in park development and maintenance.
Have a public park in your neighbourhood? Make it inclusive! Participation must not only be voluntary but also institutionalised and vested with power. From managing resources and implementing new projects, you can get the park in your vicinity to be more inclusive.
For more details, do e-mail Kilikili at firstname.lastname@example.org