For many children in the VI Family Network, vision impairment is not their only challenge, and finding an accessible, safe, fun place to play can be difficult.
Fortunately, more and more councils across Australia are creating play spaces with inclusion as their focus. Exciting sensory playgrounds with sand play and water play, tactile games, musical instruments and wind chimes. Play equipment with full wheelchair access, and spaces with quiet zones for kids who might need a break from all the noise and hullabaloo.
We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the sensory playgrounds across Australia. To learn more about inclusive play spaces that might suit your needs, contact your local council.
Waitara Park, Hornsby
Newly opened and fully fenced with a range of play equipment, from musical flowers to inclusive swings and spinners, for kids of all ages and different abilities.
Livvi’s Place, Bankstown City Gardens, Bankstown
Based on a philosophy of “Can I get there? Can I play? Can I stay?”, this playground opened in 2018 and features a sensory garden complete with sculpture park and tactile artwork, and a wheelchair accessible sandpit.
Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills
The Sensory Trail is wheelchair friendly and children are encouraged to touch and feel the bark of different trees, and to use their senses to experience the forest around them. Braille books are available on site by prior arrangement.
City Botanic Gardens Playground, Brisbane
With areas for sand play and musical play, sculpture gardens and accessible swings, wheelchair access and quiet zones, Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens Playground caters for children of different abilities and interests.
Gladstone Lions Park
This park has a strong focus on sensory engagement and is divided into separate sections, each of which focuses on a different sense. There’s a sensory touch wall, adventure play area, water play, and a ‘cosy dome’ where kids can go when they need to feel calm.
Wombat Bend, Templestowe
A sensory activity playground with equipment that makes noises when stepped on or played with. There is also sand play, and a maze.
Bollygum Adventure Playground, Kinglake
Based around the book, “Bollygum” by Garry Flemming, this playground has carved murals for little fingers to explore, and lots of unusual equipment to make sounds.
Hendrie Street Reserve Inclusive Playground, Marion, Adelaide
With water garden and sandpit, wheelchair accessibility and quiet spaces, the playground incorporates the principles of inclusive play for children with mobility issues, vision and hearing impairments, and autism.
Yokine Playground, Yokine
Set in bushland, this playground incorporates musical play features, a sensory trail, a bubbling water feature, and an area for sand play.
Boundless, Kings Park, Parkes
Canberra’s first all-abilities, inclusive playground.
Photo above is courtesy of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, North Rocks, Sydney.