Councillors from Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Council and the Mayor were joined by children from local special schools to celebrate the official opening of the Adventure Castle Play Area (Phase Two) and the Changing Place facility at Hylands Park. The Adventure Castle Play Area is an all-inclusive play environment which can be used by able-bodied and disabled children alike and includes a wheelchair accessible suspension bridge, carved features and a sense of risk and adventure for disabled young people.
The first phase of the play equipment was installed three years ago. It aimed to provide an imaginative play experience and incorporated play items that were sensory and inclusive, such as a cradle swing and acoustic roller.
From the experience of working with Columbus School and College, who provide holistic care, therapy and learning packages for disabled children and young adults, a need was identified for an inclusive section of castle wall that allowed full access by wheelchair and would include more sensory items of play equipment. The concept for this new section of the castle was developed following workshops with Columbus School and College. They helped to select the right sensory kit and influence the overall design, including being involved in calculating measurements to allow a wheelchair user and able-bodied child or carer to play side by side. The play area is a one of a kind playground in this region and has been designed to be all inclusive.
The new phase has only been made possible by Chelmsford City Council working in partnership with Essex County Council’s Funding for Short Breaks for Disabled Children (AHDC – formerly known as Aiming High). They have also grant funded the new Changing Place facility, enabling young people with disabilities and their families to visit and enjoy Hylands Park. There are only 31 Changing Places facilities in the whole of the East of England region, with only 11 in Essex. As the Changing Places website states; “Providing these toilets in public places would make a dramatic difference to the lives of thousands of people who desperately need these facilities.”
Councillor Norman Hume, Vice Chairman of Essex County Council, said: “We are delighted to have worked in partnership with Chelmsford Borough Council to provide these excellent new facilities. I am sure that they will be enjoyed by both able-bodied and disabled children for many years to come.”
Posted by Amy Moylan