Do you want an inclusive playground in your neighborhood? If so, then it is up to you to advocate for the development of an inclusive playground, which is defined as a play space that goes beyond just creating access but rather true inclusion. To get you started Physicians for Human Rights developed eight steps for advocating for change. By using these steps, you can develop a plan for creating an inclusive playground, which is more commonly referred to as an accessible playground.
Step 1—Come together
Find out who else cares about the issue and reach out to them. You should contact as many different special needs parent groups as you can, invite them to attend a meeting and encourage them to bring a friend who is also passionate about the issue.
Step 2—Set an objective
At your first meeting set forth your objectives, which should be developed and agreed upon by those present. Make sure the objectives are clear, specific and obtainable. An example might be: secure land and permission to build an inclusive playground.
Step 3—Get the facts:
- What constitutes an inclusive playground
- The advantages of inclusive playgrounds
- Who in your community will benefit from the new accessible playground
To start your research, download a free copy of the Inclusive Play Design Guide.
To determine the number of people with disabilities, the number of children in your area—you can use census.gov, your school district, or the ADA coordinator in your city or county.
Once you have all the facts, write up a background paper explaining the issue.
Step 4—Decide who you should be influencing
You need to figure out who has the authority to make the decision – it may be multiple decision makers or one party. For a playground the person may be the head of the park district, the mayor, city council person, county leader, school board official, school principal, or school superintendent.
You also want to figure out who or what influences the decision maker. For instance, the above people may be influenced by voters or they may be influenced by your plan and the ability of your group to raise the funds.
Step 5—Determine what decisions can be influenced
It is important to understand the context and constraints on the decision maker as well as the timeline for decision-making.
Step 6—Build alliances and coalitions
There are a lot of different groups that you can bring to the table to build strong alliances and impact the outcome for your proposed playground:
- Services organizations (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.)
- Non-profit organizations that work with children with disabilities
- Special needs schools/programs
- Physical or occupational therapy associations
- Groups committed to increasing recreation opportunities
- Groups working on obesity/health-related issues
Once objectives are clear and you develop a strong case, make sure that everyone in your coalition knows your message. The message needs to be clear and compelling. Now start advocating:
- Write letters
- Give presentations
- Meet with community leaders
Step 8—Review and adjust
Throughout your planning process, your group will need to schedule time to evaluate your progress along the way.
Are you ready to take the necessary steps to bring inclusive play to your community? Have you already completed any of the above steps?