Showing posts with label accessible playgrounds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label accessible playgrounds. Show all posts

Friday, June 22, 2012

Inclusive play- Sensory Garden in Pune, India

Dear Colleagues,

With the efforts of Rotary Club of Pune East and Barclays Technology Centre & Bal Kalyan Sanstha, an inclusive sensory garden has been developed.

In western world there have been several attempts similar to these to give an inclusive play experience to children with all abilities.  India should consider at least one each such park in most districts to begin with and then percolate it down to children play areas in residential areas. Such a park is not just for disabled children. This enriches experiences of all children irrespective of disabilities.

Here is the news item from Times of India

TNN | Jun 21, 2012, 04.20AM IST

PUNE: The city now has its own sensory garden specifically created to be accessible and enjoyable to children with disabilities.

The 600-sq-ft garden, called the Rotary Sensory Garden, housed in Bal Kalyan Sanstha, has 10 elaborately-created spaces providing sensory opportunities which people with disabilities normally do not experience.

The garden, developed by Rotary Club of Pune East and Barclays Technology Centre in Pune, boasts of tactile flooring, a sand pit, mini pond, sound instruments, including drums and bells, a tactile panel wall, 66 varieties of plants, etc.

Minita Patil, manager, Bal Kalyan Sanstha, said, "Many European countries have sensory gardens to suit all kinds of disabilities. There are sensory gardens in India too, but they are primarily restricted to specific disabilities only. At this garden special children with various disabilities can learn and enjoy themselves."

A portion of the garden has a pond in which children can play. "One side of the pond has a stationary structure resembling a boat, and has been designed according to the special needs of children with various disabilities, including cerebral palsy," said Patil, adding that the garden was built at a cost of Rs 25 lakh.

A tactile panel wall at the entrance has different materials embedded in it. Children can touch and experience the different textures, describe the various sensations, and also investigate which material is hot, cold, soft or hard and can identify the materials by their names later.

The garden has a game of snakes and ladders and a periscope (an instrument for observing from a concealed position). "A 'magic sound instrument' is another interesting component of the garden. The user's voice travels from one end of a steel pipe and can be heard at the other end in the form of sound waves. In addition, there are 66 varieties of plants with different smells, taste and textures here. Many of these plants are scented, while some are also edible," said Patil, adding that the garden is frequented by an average of 150-200 people daily.

"Sensory gardens improve fine and gross motor skills of the user, encourage communication, stimulate sensory awareness and promote hands-on and multi-sensory learning. They also reduce aggressive behavior," she added.

Suvarna Kadam, parent of a four-year-old with mild autism, said, "My daughter loved the tactile flooring and spent considerable amount of time just exploring the different textures. The drums and bells create resonance which attracts children. Children are free to play as they like and can be themselves here, which is not possible in other gardens."

Madhavi Shahane, special educator for hard of hearing, at the C R Ranganathan School for the Deaf, brought about 60 students to the garden on Wednesday. "The garden not only helps in educating the students, but is also be a great recreation for them. Though these students suffer from partial or total inability to hear, they can feel the vibration caused by the musical instruments such as the drums and the musical tree. This brings them immense joy. It is their first visit to the garden so they are trying to understand all the features here. The next visit will be even more enjoyable," said Shahane.

Sharda Devi, mother of a 12-year-old with autism, said features such as the stationary bicycles will help children learn balancing. "The play ladder will help autistic children overcome the fear of downward motion," she observed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Inclusive parks/playgrounds of Kilikili get UNESCO pat

Dear colleagues, 

The efforts of Bangalore based Kilikili - an organisation initiated by Ms. Kavita Krishnamoorthy, a special educator and architect, have found pat from none other than UNESCO. Here is the news report from DNA.

Published: Friday, Mar 2, 2012, 11:54 IST 
By Subir Ghosh | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

When a group of parents with differently abled children came together in 2005 to lobby for parks and playgrounds in the city be made accessible to such children, they faced an uphill task.

They were not sure if the move would work. But some six years later, the initiative is being lauded by UNESCO as a success story, that can be emulated the world over.

The initiative in question is Kilikili, a Bangalore-based trust that was set up to create inclusive neighbourhood play spaces for all children, regardless of their abilities, and to involve children in the design process. The Kilikili case study finds place in UNESCO’s ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012’ report that was published on Wednesday. This year’s annual report focuses on making cities fit for children.

Former Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner K Jairaj bought the idea that came in the form of a visually attractive proposal from Kavita Krishnamoorthy, the managing trustee of Kilikili. The pitch was drafted by a core group comprising Krishnamoorthy, an architect and a special educator, that was formed after an initial round of consultations with parents, schools, and of course the children.

The first project, that sought to make parks and playgrounds disabled-friendly, was set up in Coles Park. The success of the project prompted the BMPP and Kilikili to replicate the idea at 
MN Krishna Rao Park in Basavangudi and Gayatri Devi Park in Rajajinagar.

Krishamoorthy remains unassuming about the Unesco mention, and talks of the tasks ahead. Her organisation, which runs with only two part-time employees, has pitched ideas for similar projects in Jayanagar, Jeevan Bima Nagar and Whitefield. “We are pursuing the BBMP to implement the projects, but these things eventually take up a lot of time to bear fruit.”

The BBMP bears all the costs to make the parks friendly for children with special needs. Kilikili, for its part, networks with parents, schools and volunteers, and works towards developing a community around a project area.

Once the BBMP’s part is done, it is this community that takes over. “Parents of children with special needs usually don’t want to come alone,” says Krishnamoorthy. But the support that the Kilikili initiative elicited, particularly from the residents of these areas, has possibly kept her going. Kilikili is hardly an organisation — it is a network.

What bothered Krishnamoorthy initially was about the invisibility of children with disabilities from the mainstream. Her project, therefore, works on inclusion. Besides the weekly trips to parks that are organised by the schools, Kilikili holds events in these parks every three months, where all children participate. ‘Normal’ children get the chance to interact and play with those with special needs.

During initial consultations that the core group held in 2005, one of the refrains that had cropped up frequently was “other children don’t talk to us since they don’t understand us.” These events seek to sink the differences.

All, however, is not hunky dory. Lack of maintenance work by the BBMP at Coles Park has forced parents and schools to stop bringing the children here. It has been almost a year now, and Krishnamoorthy rues that the “work indeed progresses very slowly.” For instance, the ramp at one of the gates still exists, but the railing has fallen off.Repeated complaints have fallen on deaf ears. The ball is definitely in the court of BBMP. Its role in the project too has been lauded in the Unesco report.

The two other projects, however, have been very successful. Last year, close to 2,000 children had visited the two parks.

Krishnamoorthy understands the need of children. She was herself the mother of athree-year-old boy with special needs when a casual remark by her husband about lack of adequate facilities at a park had set her thinking.

Six years later, she and her colleagues are working on a technical manual that would help the BBMP design parks and playgrounds that address crucial needs of children with special needs.