Inclusive playground spotlight: Sycolin Creek


When teachers say, “It’s time for recess!” entire classrooms of school children race to the playground. They play for approximately 20 minutes then line up again to head back to the classroom.

Recess provides many benefits for children including:

  • A mental health break
  • Physical fitness
  • An opportunity for socialization
  • Learning life skills like negotiations

A playground environment needs to be carefully designed in order to meet the needs of all school children and that often means children ages 4 to 11-years-old. Playground equipment must accommodate many children at one time; while at the same time enabling small group and individual activity.

Here is one example of a school that has successfully designed a playground for its diverse student population:

Sycolin Creek Elementary School in Leesburg, Va. has an enrollment of 713 preschool through fifth grade students. Approximately 70 of these students receive special education services. There are students who use wheelchairs and children who have significant cognitive disabilities. When members of the Sycolin Creek PTA decided they wanted to re-do the school playground, they had to do some deep thinking to create a playground that would meet the diverse needs of the school community.

Working with All Recreation, the PTA carefully chose their equipment. They wanted to make sure the children had the opportunity for physical, sensory and social play. They did an excellent job with their design which includes many pieces of inclusive play equipment, including:

An Aeroglider—Many children can play on this at the same time, including those who use wheelchairs. It is piece that encourages imaginative play.

AerogliderA Quattro See SawSee-SawThe Quattro See Saw is designed to accommodate five to six children at a time — four on the seats and one or two in the middle. The seats are designed to provide additional support.

Rock-BlocksA RockBlocks Tunnel—The tunnel becomes a quieter place for a couple of kids to hang out and socialize, while children on the outside benefit from a tactile as well as a climbing experience.

A Wacky LogWacky-LogIn order to cross the Wacky Log, students needs to have good balancing skills. This significantly challenging piece of equipment can keep many students busy as they line up to attempt to cross.

Spin Cup—The Spin Cup provides great vestibular motion which many kids love.

Spin-CupTo see more pictures of this playground visit

How does your playground meet the needs of the entire school community?