As a family we are always looking at ways to make sure Owen is fully included in every day family life as possible. We are just like any other ‘normal’ family (hate the word Normal… whose normal anyway) We love Family days out together, Be it to The Zoo, Seaside or just to one of our Local Parks.
I have always felt lucky living in Watford. Our parks were always of such a high standard. My children have had so much fun in many of them. As a Mother of four I have spent more hours than I would like to think about in Parks.
Owen is a massive Thrill seeker, his favourite piece of equipment (Out of two which he can go on) at our local park is the Nest Swing. You should hear his squeals of delight mixed with his proper belly laugh. He loves to go very High and very fast.
The unfortunate thing is, that this is very popular piece of equipment, especially with the older children, that once he has had his ‘go’ There is not much else for Owen to do.
Cassiobury Park in the heart of Watford played a big part of my childhood. I am so glad that it has become a big part of all of my children’s childhoods too.As you may or may not be aware, Cassiobury park is currently undergoing a big £6.5million restoration project.
The project includes;
*Renovating the lovely Cha Cha Cha Café, We have lots of lovely times here. I fondly remember bringing Lilly each week here for her Hartbeeps Music and Movement Class. Also who doesn’t love a Latte while watching there kids play.
*Moving a bandstand from the top of town back to it original position in the park.
* Renovating the Paddling Pools and building a great big Hub Building which now will include a Changing Places Toilet. (This itself was in the balance at one point due to costs, but now after a lot of forwards and backwards tweets and emails and phone calls I have been assured this will definitely be going ahead.)
I have been asking Watford Borough Council for many months now if they have any plans to make Watford Parks Fully Inclusive? They responded by saying that ALL Watford Parks are already Fully Accessible.
Let me just mention that Fully Accessible and Fully Inclusive are two totally different things.
Fully Accessible playground means that all parts of the play space can be reached or entered into. For example the playground surface should be one that a wheelchair or walker can move on.
What this means for us is I can push Owen easily around the park.
Wow what fun to be had, being pushed around watching all the other children have fun and play.
A Fully Inclusive playground takes in account not only physical equipment but incorporates the emotional and social benefits of play. These types of playgrounds take into account children with physical disabilities as well as learning or developmental disabilities. In additional to accessible floor surfaces you may find Accessible Swings, Wheelchair Swings, Play Panels, Sensory Walls, and Sensory Gardens
According to Landscape Structures, a leading manufacture of inclusive playground equipment,
an inclusive playground “… can offer many opportunities for children to further develop physical, cognitive, sensory and social skills. An Inclusive design includes a balance of play experiences to build all these skills.”
So you can see why I believe a Fully Inclusive Playground is much more important than just being accessible.
I just wish Watford Borough Council were on board with this idea.
This week there has been,
|The Green They are planning to build a builders yard on.|
*Protests over the Council closing two supervised Adventure Playgrounds (which act like a youth club for many older children and young teens.)
* Planning permission has been agreed to put a builders yard on the Green by my house.
*Farm Terrance Allotment holders whose fight went all the way to the High Court to save their beloved Allotments got served their eviction notices after losing their last battle with the council.
Things personally for us took a turn for the worse this week when we all decided to take a walk down to Cassiobury Park, while Beth was at her dance Class. We was keen to see the progress and to mainly enjoy a lovely walk during a very rare, warm, dry day.
As we reached the Cha Cha Cha Café, at first glance I didn’t see it. Even though it is not finished, I thought How ‘beautiful’ the new Café garden looked. We continued to walk around the fenced off area and my heart sunk.
Previously just behind the Café was a park. This park hadn’t really changed that much in years, but was a particular favourite among those with toddlers and younger children.
*It had two great apparatus with slides, one in the shape of a fire engine which you could pretend to drive.
*A little playhouse.
* Baby swings – With the aid of a special adapted seat from Firefly called the GoTo seat Owen was able to enjoy his first swing. I remember it greatly, such a milestone. Such a special moment to see both the Twins swinging together.
Unfortunately Owen is too big to use the GoTo seat on baby swings. I had a trickly moment a while back when Owen went into full body extenstion and I nearly couldn’t get him out. This is so sad and he really did love the swing. Just look at that little face.
Owen also loved the Wheelchair Roundabout, The musical play panels and the Microphones where you could call down to the other person waiting at the second one at the opposite end of the park.
But all this was now GONE!!!
I was so upset, I couldn’t see anything Owen could play with or on.
As the girls ate their snacks (also something else Owen can not join in with) I sent an array of tweets and emails.
I still haven’t had any replies regarding this. My Tweets and Emails continue to go on ignored just like my Sons needs to play do.
At the moment I have no idea if whether or not this is it? Will more equipment that my Son and others like come?
All I want them to do is show that Owen is welcome. Owen deserves the same chances and opportunities as any other child.
All Owen want is to do what other four year olds do… and that’s PLAY!!!