Adapting play for children of all abilities to enjoy

Jun 14, 2019

How does a child in a wheelchair enjoy a ride on a merry-go-round? Joyfully, if it's an adaptive merry-go-round.

There is a new place to play in Williamsville for children of all abilities. The ARC of Erie County has opened a new 5,000-square-foot playground next to its Wilson Road headquarters.

Credit The ARC of erie County

"It's all adaptive equipment, from wheelchair swings to various types of slides and swingsets, musical instruments and sensory equipment," said The ARC Executive Director Douglas DiCesare. "That's for any and all our children that attend our pre-school with all types of needs."

DiCesare said even the custom textured surface of the rubberized ground that helps cushion falls is adaptive. The cost was about $180,000, which is higher than non-adaptive playgrounds.

"The equipment is definitely specialized in certain ways," he said. "For example, there's one item there, it's adaptive so that any individual with any kind of ambulatory or wheelchair use could use its design, but it's a very expensive piece of equipment, as well as some of the sensory items in the playground, which you typically wouldn't see in a typical children's playground, as I say, like some of the wheelchair swings and other devices we have in there."

Credit The ARC of Erie County

DiCesare said the playground was paid for with funds from The ARC and local foundations.

It is currently for use by the human service organization's pre-school and day care children, but they are considering opening up the new space to the community. He said The ARC is also considering an adaptive playground for the older children with disabilities it serves.

DiCasare hoped any new local playground will include at least some adaptive equipment.

"Children need a place to go. Some of the communities where there are public playgrounds have already begun starting including adaptive equipment, so children of all types can use those playgrounds. So it is starting to happen slowly," he said. "Children are children. They gravitate toward the fun stuff. That's what they like to do, regardless of whether the child has a type of disability or not."

Credit The ARC of Erie County