Saturday, February 06, 2010

A park with a difference Success

A park with a difference Success

Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: It all started when the parent of a young child with disability from Fraser Town posed a fair question: “Why is it that there are no public spaces for my child, or others like him, to play?”

After scores of visits to the BBMP and some keen campaigning from empathetic citizens, the area got a first-of-its-kind park that put it on the map.

Coles Park is the first disability-friendly park in the city, and perhaps also in India. “It all started with three families that started talking about the feasibility of such a park,” says Kavitha Krishnamurthy of the Kilikili Trust. These families met children with various disabilities in the area, asked them what they would like to see changed, and held consultations with caregivers and special educators.

The small group of parents later expanded to include conscientious citizens and residents of the area who approached the local corporator and the BBMP. “It wasn’t easy. A lot of follow up had to be done. But the corporator was supportive and we were able to turn the park into a truly inclusive space,” Ms. Krishnamurthy explains.

Ashok Ranjan, a parent of a child who uses a wheelchair, says the park changed the way his son interacted with people. “It was nice to finally have a park where turnstiles would not hinder our entry, and where ramps and tracks made life simpler,” Mr. Ranjan explains. The park has a sensory integration track (for the feet), some merry-go-round seats for children who need upper body support, as well as swings and seesaw. The fact that these facilities are included in the regular playing area makes it truly inclusive.

Badly maintained
However, like other parks, maintenance has been neglected. Pointing out that the Coles Park is extensively used, Ms. Krishnamurthy laments: “We have written several times to the authorities on the state of the park but to no avail.”


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