On monday we met 11 year old Rosalie and her parents for a drink. During the pregnancy, Rosalie lost the frontal part of her brain. Thus she has difficulties to talk, but she understands everything. Rosi is a very attentive young girl. She has spasticity and sits in a wheelchair. The wheelchair supports her in an upright position.
Rosalies parents told us, that there was no barrier-free playground when she was little. Her parents used to carry her out of the wheelchair so that she could play at the playground. Rosalies parents actually advocate this, since she was then given the opportunity to experience variety. She learned, felt and experienced things outside of her wheelchair. Apart from this, she didn’t feel different from the other kids anymore.
The family emphasized, that the variety and the new feeling a child gets when being or playing outside the wheelchair, is much more valuable than one might imagine. But unfortunately there is no equipment, no seats, which supports the body and ensures children with paralysis or spasticity a comfortable seat, for example while swinging. Her mother gave us the example of a beanbag chair. Thanks to its soft filling, the beanbag ensures a cozy seating and adapts to the body at once. The beanbag chair is body ergonomically.
The interview and the experiences the family has already made, gave us a whole new view of needs.
After a little observation and a couple of statements, we narrowed it down to the main elements, which are most popular by children in different ages: sandbox, swing, slide. We made sketches and gathered ideas of how each element could be inclusive. After adding the beanbag chair into our sketches, they led more and more into a swing.
So we minimized our target group into children at the age of 2 to 10 years, due to weight and hight.
Right now, we have a few ideas and sketches for a swing, in which you can sit or lay down together as two. Already existing swings inspired us, like in the pictures below.
The strength of our concept is currently more on the inclusion than on accessibility. Our idea of the swing is more about togetherness and common experiences with children with and without disabilities.
We could not imagine before, that inclusion and accessibility are two different topics/areas. Looking at our first idea of the playground and the current one, our current one is not barrier-free. The swing can not be used with a wheelchair. However, the current swing gives children the opportunity to experience moments outside their wheelchair, in a suitable way.