'Can we play on the swings and roundabouts?': creating inclusive play spaces for disabled young people and their families

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The importance of play for children’s development and wellbeing has been well established. However, disabled children and their families frequently find accessing play sites challenging due to a range of physical and social barriers and are therefore unable to experience many of the benefits play in this setting provides. Increasingly, United Kingdom policy has recognised this with the 2008 Play Strategy making an explicit commitment supported by funding to ensure that more inclusive public play facilities are developed. Using a case study example of a newly developed ‘inclusive’ play facility, this paper examines the views of young disabled people and their families regarding what makes a play facility inclusive. Using a socio-spatial analysis the paper identifies the importance of not only addressing physical constraints but also creating a space where disability is viewed positively and able-bodied discourses are not privileged at the expense of others. The importance of consulting with families, location of facilities and the role of play workers are all analysed. The paper concludes by critically examining the implications of the findings for the delivery of the Play Strategy particularly within the context of public spending cuts imposed by the new Coalition Government, and considers whether inclusive play spaces can become a standard and embedded part of community facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
Number of pages18
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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