If there’s one thing I have learned it’s that all children love to play, but every child’s needs may be different. I am hoping that this information can help give all children the experience of adventure, achievement, imagination and excitement in their play. Our local governments should be providing play spaces suitable to children of all abilities, so I went out looking for them. I found two playgrounds - one on the North Shore in Chatswood, and one just off the North Shore in Ryde.
In 2006, the Perkins family tragically lost their baby daughter, Olivia. Following this, the Touched by Olivia Foundation was established. One work of the Foundation is to partner with communities to build inclusive play spaces around Australia, suitable for children of all abilities. These playgrounds are each called “Livvi’s Place.”
Livvi’s Place, Ryde contains sensory walks, along with steps, waves and bumps to extend skills. A fully seated flying fox can be used by younger children, and a standing flying fox is great for older kids. There are musical elements that you step on or hit, and a large sand pit which is wheelchair accessible (BYO bucket and spade). Fun mirrors, ride on cars, and a roundabout that someone could wheel onto for a spin. Even the spider climber has a bigger hole so that children with limited abilities can start to climb. The slides are cleverly designed within a hill meaning that they have no stairs or ladders and there is a pole at the top to get extra stability before you zoom down. One entrance features a beautiful mural of pictures that children have made and a sign of reminding you of a parent’s devotion to their child and passion to make our parks better. I highly recommend taking the drive to Livvi’s Place in Ryde.
Beauchamp Park in Chatswood is also well designed for children of many abilities. It has ramps and word stations written in Braille and sign language. The word stations feature Australian animals in alphabetical order. It has a flying fox, huge swings, a climbing cube, slide and much more, but these are not all fully accessible. Most of the activities are accessible for children with additional needs. I would say it is a park where all children can feel that there is something for them and that they can feel included. The gardens are also lovely to wander. There are no fences but the park is very big so it is pretty safe. My little one loved the sculptures – a “cowch” to lie on, a dog to say hello to and some gumboots to pop behind for a photo. Beauchamp Park is a good option for meeting friends and children of all abilities.
Details of each park:
Livvi’s Place, Yamble Reserve, Quarry Rd, Ryde
Beauchamp Park, near the corner of Nicholson and Darling Sts, Chatswood
You may also wish to visit touchedbyolivia.com.au to find out more about the Touched by Olivia Foundation or other Livvi’s Places around Sydney.