Old Harlow campaign for disabled children to use accessible play equipment

Communities / Wed 10th Apr 2024 at 06:21am

SEVERAL Old Harlow families want to make sure disabled children can access local play equipment, following their own lived experience, and have started a campaign to install an accessible swing at the council playground opposite the Norman Booth Centre.

Availability of accessible playgrounds is a local and national issue. There is a lack of inclusive play equipment for wheelchair users, those who are visually and neurologically impaired, and young children with special educational needs. The charity Scope has found nationally that 49 percent of families with disabled children face accessibility problems with their local playground. That statistic needs to change. Local playgrounds should be accessible to all children, irrespective of their ability or specific mobility needs.

Old Harlow residents have contacted Joel Charles, Mike Garnett and Sue Livings about replacing one of the existing swings at the Norman Booth playground with a seat designed specifically for disabled children. It is felt this would be an important first step to creating a more inclusive play space. Harlow Council has been approached by Joel Charles and his colleagues to see if one of the swing seats at the Norman Booth playground can be replaced before the summer season begins. 

Although the families who have raised the accessibility issue have focused on one of Old Harlow’s playgrounds, they want to make the council aware of the lack of inclusive play equipment across the town.

Rita Farrant, an Old Harlow grandmother who first called for the Norman Booth playground to be a more inclusive space, said:

“It would bring so much joy to my granddaughter, whose special needs mean it is not possible for her to join in with other children at her local playground, if she could use a more accessible and inclusive range of equipment.

“Some changes have been made to improve access to playgrounds for disabled children, but more needs to be done. Installing an accessible swing at the Norman Booth playground would make a big difference and ensure more local disabled children can access activities outdoors.”

Rita continued, “I am aware that Harlow Council is considering my proposal. Replacing one swing seat is only the first step. I would encourage the council to look at more ways to ensure all the town’s playgrounds are inclusive spaces.”

Joel Charles, Mike Garnett and Sue Livings are backing the campaign:

“Rita is right to raise awareness that families who are bringing up disabled children often struggle to find local playgrounds that have accessible equipment.

“We support the campaign to make the Norman Booth playground a more accessible place for disabled children to enjoy. No child should ever feel excluded, playgrounds must be inclusive spaces. Harlow Council can use this as an opportunity to make a further positive investment into the community.

“Improving the accessibility of the town’s playgrounds will encourage more families to get outdoors. This is a positive campaign that everyone can get behind.”

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3 Comments for Old Harlow campaign for disabled children to use accessible play equipment:

2024-04-10 07:12:27

Go Rita! One of the loveliest residents in Old Harlow :-)

Kim Oconnor
2024-04-10 09:22:24

I have been saying this for a long time. My family who live somewhere else ,not Harlow had to travel a good few miles to access disabled facilities.

Mark Gough
2024-04-10 13:29:04

As a Care Worker myself, I couldn't agree more. What a truly momentous step forward it would be for all our Town's Playground's to be truly Disabled Accessible asap. Why not put it as a motion to the first Full Council in the New Session!? Mark Gough -Leader Harlow UKIP

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