If you have a child or young adult with special needs, it can sometimes be tough to find play areas that are accessible so that they can join in on outdoor fun as well. Many accessible playgrounds carry a trademark known as what is called a “boundless playground” – this is a coined term by a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all children, regardless of ability, can enjoy playgrounds. Read on to learn more about these wheelchair-accessible playgrounds, what makes a playground accessible, and where some of these fun playgrounds are located in the state of New Jersey.
Wheelchair-accessible Playgrounds: What Makes a Playground Accessible?
One of the most important things that makes a playground accessible is clear routes with no obstructions leading to the playground. Not only is this important for a child who may have a disability, but also for parents and grandparents with disabilities who may accompany the child to the park. The question is often asked, “do playgrounds need to be ADA compliant?”
Generally speaking, most new playgrounds being built do need to be wheelchair-accessible playgrounds as well as inclusive playgrounds, which is also covered under the ADA. Just as with many previously built structures, many older playgrounds are not ADA compliant and, thus, are not forced into being so. Another important thing that makes a playground accessible is a ground-level play structure. This allows a child who cannot leave a wheelchair to be able to play. Other things that make a playground accessible include:
- A swing with five-point restraints (for children that are unable to support themselves due to medical issues)
- Handrails on both sides of all ramps
- At least half of play structures must be on a wheelchair-accessible route
Wheelchair-accessible Playgrounds: The Unseen Disabilities
There is also the need for play areas to be inclusive, as well as wheelchair-accessible playgrounds. For children who may struggle with “unseen” disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), universal playgrounds should also have playscapes or play spaces that are away from the playground’s general play area, so those who have sensory issues can “take a break” if they need to in a more quiet play area. However, this play area should not be isolating, merely a “break space.” This also falls under the ADA compliance umbrella.
The Best Accessible Playgrounds in New Jersey
There are many wheelchair-accessible playgrounds in New Jersey. Some of these include:
- Hudson County: 16th Street, Bayonne: A large portion of this park is dedicated to children with special needs and includes swings with five-point restraints for those who do not have body control. This park also has many structures on the ground, including a “Beat Club,” where children can play musical instrument structures, such as tubes and bongos.
- Morris County: Central Park (91 Central Ave.): This park and playground is a wheelchair-accessible playground and park for those of all ages. The playground is specifically designed so that those with special needs can play alongside their siblings and friends. There are also 11 miles of paved trails so that adults and children with special needs can enjoy hiking. This park also includes a dog park and disc golf course.
- Somerset County: Rainbowland Playground (94 Readington Rd.): This playground offers wheelchair-accessible slides in addition to sensory activities for those with ASD and many elevated surfaces that are accessible to those in wheelchairs.
- Bergen County: Van Saun Park (216 Forest Ave., Paramus): This wheelchair-accessible playground has a splash pad, and many accessible ramps and bridges, including structures and playscapes that are accessible to those of all abilities.
- Burlington County: Marlton Memorial Park (1040 Tuckerton Rd.): This is essentially a sports complex, but also has a handicap-accessible playscape and wheelchair-accessible pirate ship where children can take a treasure map and attempt to locate the buried treasure.
For more information on wheelchair accessibility, or to learn about mobility products that could be life-changing in the household, such as wheelchair ramps or stairlifts, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We want both caregivers and their loved ones to live their best lives possible.