Today marks the start of Autism Awareness Month. Many places – courthouses, bridges and even the Empire State Building will shine in blue light over the next few days to bring awareness on the effects that autism has on a family. Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue campaign has resulted in 27,073 actions being taken to date to shine a light on autism.
Inclusive play is a top priority for Playworld Systems throughout the year. But special care is being taken during the month of April by to ensure playgrounds are more accessible for children with autism and their families. Over the next four weeks, Playworld Systems will be communicating with its dealers around the country specifically about building playgrounds that will provide a rich play environment for everyone, not just those with mobility challenges.
To coincide with Autism Awareness Month, the company just released three new playground designs at varying price points. The designs show how playgrounds can help support the needs of children on the autism spectrum. Each of the playgrounds follow the 10 tips we have discussed on Play by Playworld regarding how to identify good play spaces for children with autism. The tips include: a fence, an orientation path, vestibular and properceptive experiences, opportunities for cooperative play, cozy spaces, and auditory and tactile experiences.
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In addition to the new designs, Playworld Systems will be offering training for their salesforce every Friday this month. These trainings will review the guiding principles of inclusive playground design. The staff will be given resource materials that will help further their understanding of inclusive play. You can review some of this material at Playworldsystems.com.
While Playworld Systems is concentrating on autism and inclusive play in April, making sure children of all abilities have playgrounds that meet their needs is a main concern for the company year-round. Playworld Systems pays attention to inclusive play daily through its training program, marketing materials, and equipment development. In 2011 Playworld Systems launched its Inclusive Play Design Guide, a practical tool to enable the creation of landmark inclusive outdoor play spaces.
This blog covers an inclusive play story once or twice a month. Sales and design staff are given on-going training and tips for inclusive play design regularly throughout the year. New equipment is analyzed through an inclusive lens before being released.
Most impressively, Playworld Systems has an in-depth training program that enables staff to become Inclusive Play Design Specialists. To become a specialist, a person must take six classes and pass a test to show comprehension at the conclusion of each class. Once they have successfully passed all six classes, they are then given a sample scenario of a customer wanting an inclusive playground. They then must design a playground to meet the needs of this customer.
In this final step of certification, the person must show an understanding of the needs of children with a variety of different disabilities, ADA, inclusive play principles as laid out in the Inclusive Play Design Guide as well as the ability to put it all together in a fun design that meets the budget and space requirements of their customer. I am pleased to report that over 100 people have completed the six classes and at this point there are 40 Inclusive Play Design Specialists around the world.
How are you going to raise awareness in April?