OUR HARROW CAMPAIGN
Inspired by what they achieved we surveyed our facilities and conducted a borough-wide consultation. What we discovered is that:
There are 60 parks and open spaces in Harrow and 25 of them had playgrounds. Special needs children in wheelchairs, especially being able to use only a few pieces of equipment if any at all in the parks. Currently, families are having to travel outside the borough and pay for specialist play facilities, disabled-friendly places and centres. These places include Thames Valley Adventure Playground (also known as TVAP in Taplow, Berkshire), Partyman World of Play (Wembley), Aldenham Country Playground (Elstree, Hertfordshire), Willow Farm Activity (St Albans, Hertfordshire).
In normal park playgrounds, where there are typically only one or 2 pieces of disability-friendly equipment (e.g. a basket swing) in a large playground full of able-bodied play equipment, we want to turn ‘inclusion’ on its head by developing a playground that caters for all physical disabilities from those in a wheelchair to neuro-typical children/able-bodied young children. The primary objective is to encourage children of any ability to play side by side on the same playground because all the specialist play equipment is thoughtfully designed to be used by children of all abilities, thus challenging and removing physical barriers of accessibility to inclusion and equality, enabling children to play independently. Outside of school hours and during school holidays, families will be able to use the park and neurotypical siblings will be able to play next to each other. The project will be the first of its kind in Harrow supported by early years providers locally and also to the whole of Harrow’s SEND children.
CEDARS INCLUSIVE & ALL-ABILITY ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND PROJECT – TURNING INCLUSIVE PLAY ON IT’S HEAD!
BACKGROUND TO THE STORY OF THE ‘WE WANT TO PLAY TOO!’ CAMPAIGN
“We want to play too!” (Harrow) was a study and proposal of disability friendly and accessible park playgrounds in Harrow, based on an inspirational approach taken by the Hammersmith and Fulham parent carer forum called Parents Active. The survey of their parents’ needs led to partnership working with various agencies that resulted in two major subsequent developments which have since been recognised as good practice in SEN provision. Their survey of the facilities and the needs of their families resulted in 2 objectives for their campaign:
- Improved facilities in parks in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
- A purpose built disabled short breaks centre
Read more about the story of the Hammersmith & Fulham campaign on our Special Needs Community website HERE.
Inspired by what they achieved we surveyed our facilities and conducted a borough wide consultation. What we discovered is that:
There are 60 parks and open spaces in Harrow and 25 of them had playgrounds. Special needs children in wheelchairs, especially are able to use only a few pieces of equipment if any at all in the parks. Currently, families are having to travel outside the borough and pay for specialist play facilities, disabled friendly places and centres. These places include Thames Valley Adventure Playground (also known as TVAP in Taplow, Berkshire), Partyman World of Play (Wembley), Aldenham Country Playground (Elstree, Hertfordshire), Willow Farm Activity (St Albans, Hertfordshire).
Families told us in the Harrow Council’s Short Breaks Consultation they would like:
- “A specialist centre where children can have fun and parents can hang out”
- “More stimulating outdoor activities”
- “Fun activities for siblings”
In 2017, our own survey of parents told us these additional comments:
- “There is simply nowhere for us to go as a family in the whole of Harrow”
- “A specialist playground and café would be LIFE CHANGING!”
We asked for support in helping us to develop Harrow’s first disability friendly and inclusive adventure playground. We consulted with families about what kind of equipment they would like to see and had a playground company put together a design. The total cost of our wishlist of equipment and design of the playground added up to £97,000 (plus VAT). We started a Crowdfunding page and started looking for different sources for funding.
FUNDING UPDATE ON THE PROJECT
We are very pleased to announce that we have been working together in a community partnership with local early years providers (nurseries, childminders and pre-schools) and together we have been awarded £40,000 from the Harrow Council Inclusion Fund. The Inclusion Fund is awarded to support 3-4 years years in Harrow with emerging special educational needs and disability (SEND). The funding means we can start developing the playground for those very young children and others in the community.
ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP WORKING
We applied for the funding in partnership with 5 local other early years providers (pre-schools, nurseries and childminders) who includes:
- Cedars Pre-school
- Cricket Nursery
- St Panteleimon Nursery School
- Harmony Nursery
- The Little Academy Day Nursery & Pre-School
We hope to work with lots of other local early years providers to promote the use of the playground. Understanding play and how play can be used to support children with SEND, intergrate them into society and making friends is fundamental to the heart of the funding and our aims.
We are also working with pupils at Shaftesbury High School, which is a moderate learning disability special school in Harrow for pupils age 11-19. The pupils have taken a special interest in the project and using it as a topic for their Design & Technology subject. They have given us lots of innovative ideas and inspiration of how we can improve the playground from their own unique perspective. We are very inspired by their contribution to the project.
STARTING PHASE 1 OF THE PROJECT
We are very grateful to have secured the funding to start the project but because of the costs of the surfacing of the playground to allow wheelchair users to reach every equipment, the pieces of equipment we will be able to purchase with the grant is limited. We have decided to start with the first equipment, which is the All-Ability swing set.
This piece of equipment is especially designed to make sure any child with any disability can use this swing and play next to other children with other or no disability. There are four different seats for different types of abilities, including a wheelchair swing where the disabled child will be able to remain in their wheelchair but attached to the swing. We believe this is the true meaning of inclusion, where all children with all abilities can play; turning inclusive play on it’s head!
THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT
We need your help to finish building the dream! Please see below for our wish list to find out what other equipment we hope to fund for.
How you can help us:
- Join our fundraising team to look for other sources of funding
- Help us spread the word and promote the project
- Donate to the project
Visit our funding page to donate to the project.
You can also support the project by entering into Harrow’s first ever lottery- Harrow Wins. Visit the Harrow Wins website for more information of how to take part and find the Special Needs Community CIC page to buy tickets for the first lottery draw on SATURDAY 4TH MAY!!