Children who have physical disabilities can sometimes feel left out from childhood activities. Many bounce houses, pools, and even parks are not accessible for our children. My daughter has a neuromuscular disease and uses a wheelchair for mobility. I am always looking for child-friendly places and activities where she can fully participate.
Having outside time is so important for everyone. Children learn so much from their environments, especially when outdoors. Fortunately, many parks are now adding accessible play structures and swings.
The small city that we live in does not have an accessible park yet, but the city adjacent to ours has a few of them—with many nice shade trees. These parks were specially designed and built with children who have disabilities in mind.
There are accessible amenities such as playgrounds, restrooms, covered picnic shelters, hike and bike trails, open fields with plenty of room to explore, and picnic area with grills. To find out what parks your city has you can check out your city’s webpage. This should tell you the name and location of the park, whether it is accessible and the extra amenities.
Many of the playgrounds have therapeutic transfer points for children who use a wheelchair for mobility. My daughter’s favorite park also has musical instruments, sight and sound panels, and other sensory activities to accommodate children diagnosed with autism or any sensory disability. These activities are at the perfect height for her to reach them from her wheelchair. I try to make sure to schedule a weekly park day for her (when the weather permits).
Parks are a great place to take your child for a community outing. Make sure to pack snacks, drinks, or even a picnic lunch. This would also make a great family day activity where everyone can participate and have fun. Getting out and having physical and social opportunities is very important.
These experiences also help our children gain self-esteem. Self-esteem and self-worth lead to independence for our children. But most of all, fun can be had by everyone.
Check the Services, Groups and Events page to find accessible parks in your area.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.