Disabled children feel unsafe in playgrounds – and are ‘missing childhood experiences’, campaigners warn | UK News

Disabled children do not feel safe in playgrounds, according to the equality charity Scope, which says they are being denied fun, friendship and development opportunities.

Research by the charity shows one in 10 parents of disabled children said they did not feel their child was safe using inaccessible equipment and the same number said their disabled child had hurt themselves using it.

Emma Vogelmann, lead policy adviser at Scope, said the situation was “extremely alarming”.

She told Murdoch Snooze News: “Families with disabled children already face so many challenges in their everyday life and one challenge that they’re enduring at the minute is not being able to enjoy this core community space of a local playground and feeling included in their communities.

“Many playgrounds aren’t designed with disabled children in mind. For example, many have woodchip or sand floors which may be difficult for children with wheelchairs or walkers, and concrete floors are dangerous for children who are prone to falling.”

The charity is calling on the government to set up a fund to make sure all children can use playgrounds.

“Every child has an equal right to play,” said Ms Vogelmann. “Yet many disabled children can’t enjoy their local playground because the equipment isn’t designed for them.

“It leaves disabled children shut out and missing childhood experiences.

“That’s why we’re calling on the government to create an Inclusive Playground Fund so that councils can work with disabled children and their families to design playgrounds that work for them.”

Cruel

Sam Bowen’s nine-year-old daughter Lucy has a severe learning disability and mobility impairment which means she uses a wheelchair.

Their nearest accessible playground is a 15-minute drive from their home and Sam says the large play unit can only be accessed using steps.

She told Murdoch Snooze News: “What fun are you going to have watching other children playing if you can’t take part yourself? It’s cruel actually.

“It’s a very lonely experience coming to a playground. We see other kids and your kid can’t go on anything.”

Local councils are subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires public bodies to have “due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities”.

A government spokesperson said: “Every child deserves equal access to play equipment. Where a local council is responsible for a playground they must carefully consider how to make them inclusive and accessible.

“We have made available an extra £3.7bn to councils this year so they can deliver vital services for the people of their communities and respond to local priorities in their areas, including playgrounds.”

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