Saturday, September 05, 2009

Another special park in Bangalore for disabled children

Another special park in Bangalore for disabled children
Bangalore, Sep 4 (IANS) :

Eight-year-old wheelchair-bound Vaani P. has never been to a park. When she was taken to the newly opened Gayatridevi Park in Rajajinagar here, she could not hide her excitement.

Not only did Vaani fully explore every nook and cranny of the park but she also played a few games.

"She has never been to a park, like other children, as she has locomotive disability. Playgrounds and parks don't cater to the needs of special children. But when Gayatridevi Park, catering to the needs of children with physical and mental disability, was opened recently, I decided to take her there," Vaani's mother Pallavi said.

Gayatridevi Park was set up after the success of the Coles Park project, completed in December 2006. The park in Fraser Town here is possibly India's first inclusive public play space, catering to the needs of disabled children.
Both the parks, built by the city's municipal corporation Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in association with voluntary organisation KiliKili, have special disabled-friendly features like ramps at the main gate for easy entry, wheelchair tracks in the play space, safe seats on swings and merry-go-rounds to make children without upper body support feel secure and safe. The slides, for example, have raised sides to enable use by children fearful of heights.

Meanwhile, a wheelchair sandpit and a sensory integration track are being constructed.
"It's an effort in the right direction. Most often we forget the needs of the special children. With the coming up of Coles Park and Gayatridevi Park, not only will differently-abled children be able to play and have fun but there will be an integration of regular children and special children in the society," Urban Development Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who is also the Rajajinagar legislator, said while inaugurating the Gayatridevi Park on Aug 26.
The specially-designed equipment at the Gayatridevi Park cost Rs.2.5 million, while the entire project, funded by the BBMP, cost around Rs.3 million; 70-80 children can use the play area at a time.
"We designed a merry-go-round with wheelchair access, swings, slides and basketball courts that are disabled-friendly. All play equipment has been tested for safety. Parents of children with disabilities were also consulted during the design stage," said Sridhar Vinyas, proprietor, Vinyas Play Systems, the contractor for the Rajajinagar project.

Conventional play equipment such as swings and see-saws have been fitted with bucket seats to help children with a range of disabilities to use it without fear.
"Our idea is to create inclusive play spaces that will be accessible to all children, regardless of their ability. We are trying to popularise the concept of inclusive playtime, wherein children get to interact with their peers who are disabled," said Kavita Krishnamoorthy, managing trustee of KiliKili.
According to Krishnamoorthy, four more parks for special children will come up in Bangalore soon.

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