Play is an important part of any child’s childhood, so when we learned that there was currently a group of young people that were denied the opportunity to go to their local park and have fun with their family and friends, not just in Hyndburn, but across Lancashire, the North West and beyond the forum just had to get involved to see what we could do to help and we hope you will feel the same.
Hyndburn Parents and Carers group approached the Council Parks team for help, who in turn enlisted the assistance of the Forum. Below is just some of what we learnt during the consultation process for this project, which touched the heart of all concerned.
Our children are only children for such a short time please support them by letting them be kids, feel normal, feel the freedom of just doing stuff most mainstream kids take for granted. Let them know what it’s like to swing in a wheelchair, to roll around and play in sand, see other children that are similar to them, to make them feel normal, let them make memories with their siblings where they are able to interact fully as part of the family.
Playgrounds that are listed as inclusive often mean only one or two pieces of equipment are actually usable for my child’s disability. Standard playgrounds don’t have the right welfare facilities and no one wants to change their child on the grass or on a public toilet floor. Many don’t have the right boundaries to keep our children safe, meaning there is no respite for the parents/carers. Some of the equipment looks like a hospital hoist instead of something fun.
Children stare and make fun of my 10 year old child as they still have to wear pull ups so it isn’t a pleasant experience. Parents only see a 10 year old they don’t see the 3 year old in a 10 year old’s body, who desperately wants to belong. The trips became so distressing that we just stopped going, meaning my able bodied younger child also misses out.
The special schools across Lancashire told us that although they have the means to take the children out on school trips it’s almost impossible to find the facilities that could cater for the different range of disabilities so the opportunities are very limited.
The parks team and the forum looked at how we could help this very special group of young people.
Stage 1 - Was to find a location that would have access to the right welfare facilities. Hyndburn Leisure Centre then offered their assistance. Having a fully equipped changing facility for the disabled, a coach bay and disabled parking, everyone agreed that this would be the ideal location.
Stage 2 - Was to undertake a range of consultation events with parents, carers, users and special schools to find out just what type of equipment was needed to meet the user’s needs. Play manufacturers were also contacted to see what equipment was commercially available. The parks team then started working with Inclusive Play to prepare several designs, which incorporated not just play equipment but sensory planting and textures on the fencing and flooring/surfacing in a fun themed environment.
Stage 3 – Incorporated as many of the consultation requests as possible in the finished design. Due to the amount of space needed and the different types of disabilities it was agreed that a three zoned approach would be best and that with the number of potential users a second changing facility would be required. It also came through the consultation that the inclusion of two part time play workers with experience of SEND children would provide some respite for parents and carers and enable greater interaction and understanding between the various user groups.
Stage 4 - Costings. To build this very special SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) playground is not cheap, but we feel that these children do deserve somewhere to play.
The capital costs ( playground equipment, interactive fencing, sensory planting, improved access, additional changing place and ancillaries) will cost just short of £1 Million, The Play workers including consumables will cost a further £245,000 over 5 years.
This project which will not only be used by the disabled young people from Hyndburn, but disabled youngsters from across Lancashire as the first specifically designed playground for disabled children in the North West.
We are now entering to raise the necessary funds to turn this dream into a reality and this is where we really need your help even a small amount puts us one step nearer.
Organisations involved in this project delivery are as follows,
Hyndburn Parents & Carers Group - The group will be setting up a just giving page and working with the forum on fund raising events/ activities. The green spaces forum will act as the accountable body for all funds relating to this project.
Hyndburn Green Spaces Forum was established in 2005 by 4 Community, not for profit groups, coming together who believed that free access to good quality open space and leisure facilities could contribute to the social health and wellbeing of local residents. We became an ENTRUST – environmental registered body in 2005. Working with local residents on a variety of projects that where important to them (playgrounds, sensory gardens, and woodlands) our ranks increased as more community groups where formed and joined the forum so that they too could make a difference in their area. On the 3rd of February 2012 we became a registered charity. Charity no.1145700. We are completely run by volunteers made up of local residents. We have the full support of the Local Authority with our own Parks Liaison Officer. This project is one that came to the forum from the Hyndburn Parents and Carers Group, when it became too big for them to take forward.
Hyndburn Leisure Trust - Is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Company house no 04270411, Charity no 1090528 and will be responsible for the play workers, terms & conditions, and HR requirements.
I have included the finished designs, and supporting documents but if you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thanking you on behalf of the Hyndburn Parents & Carers Group, SEND children of Lancashire and Hyndburn Green Spaces Forum.
Neil Mooney Chair
If you would like to get involved please contact the project co-ordinator Mrs Shirley Parkinson on 01254 356242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We will bring you regular updates on this exciting project as it develops