Play for all: Chennai gets first disabled-friendly park for children
Physically disabled children in city will now be able to enjoy different rides in the park, and at the same time enhance their sensory capabilities.
Children with disabilities in Chennai now have a reason to rejoice. The city corporation recently unveiled its first-ever sensory park for children with different kind of disabilities.
The park, designed by Kavita Krishnamurthy’s 12-year-old NGO Kilikili, was supported by a network of parents of children with disabilities who have been focusing on inclusive play areas. It was funded by Greater Chennai Corporation, which set aside Rs 1.5 crore for the project.
The plan for such a park was conceived three years ago when Krishnamurthy moved permanently to Chennai and was approached by Disability Rights Alliance to design the park. To implement the design, Kilikili roped in a private architectural firm called City Works.
Built on an area of 1,529sqm, the park is located on the 4th Trust Link Road in Santhome.
The park has two tactile art walls with bright primary colours inside the space. In order to enhance the sensory perception of children, the walls are designed with tyres, bangles, shells and other materials.
Additionally, sand, pebbles, wood, fibre, and concrete have been used on stepping stones and infinity walkways for kids. Rides and facilities such as the sandbank and swings can accommodate wheelchair-bound children and ground-level merry-go-rounds are developed for the visually impaired, autistic and wheelchair-bound kids.
On the park’s design, Kavita told The Hindu,
“An accessible park is extremely critical to a city like Chennai and we had several discussions with the children as well as parents, teachers, therapists and other people who are part of the disability sector to provide inputs."
The ground has been covered with fibre to ensure no one gets hurt if one falls. To assist the children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome (ADHD), slides and climbers are designed in such a way that it will help them to focus and exercise control in order to manoeuvre them.
In an interview with The News Minute, Kavita said,
“There is a singing stone that will vibrate if you wet your hands with water and rub it. This was built by a few boys from Auroville and it is lovely. Toys which make music when there is a breeze or when you move them have also been installed. These help with stimulation.”
Explaining the reason behind the inception of such disabled-friendly parks, Kavita added,
“In 2005, I had taken my then four-year-old son to play at a public park in Bengaluru when I realised that not a single child with a disability was seen playing there. The design of the park allowed no physical access to wheelchair-bound kids or visually-impaired kids. For children with autism or intellectual disabilities, there was the problem of social access. They could never join other children. This is when I realised there was an urgent need for inclusive, well-designed public spaces for all kids.”
Chennai has now joined the bandwagon of cities with such disabled-friendly parks. Bengaluru has three such parks, and Mangaluru and Nagpur have one each.