Meet Julie and Jude.
This initiative was started in May 2023, as a way to honour National AccessAbility Week with the desire to ‘do more’ for inclusion and accessibility for all.
This desire all stems from my sweet boy Jude, who is two years old, has Cerebral Palsy and Global Developmental Delay. Jude LOVES to crawl, swing, play with water, and explore the world around him. Although Jude doesn’t yet walk independently (he’s trying hard) and has a speech delay, he still deserves equal opportunity for play at a playground, without barriers. Every child deserves that.
In this journey of watching my son grow into his little self, we continuously try to provide him with every possible opportunity for learning that suits his abilities and meets him where he is at. After Jude got his first walker this spring, we immediately experienced various barriers when trying to integrate it into his outdoor play experiences at playgrounds. Our goal was to aid his development by providing him with new experiences in an environment where he can play alongside other children, with or without his walker.
This lead me to often wondering – where are the playgrounds near us that would offer Jude the freedom to explore independently with his walker, the opportunity for engagement in accessible play, and with a ground surface that is safe for him when he wants to crawl. Locating these playgrounds and accessing this specific information on accessible play elements was extremely difficult. Our experience sparked a desire in me to try to improve access to this information. This was how I saw myself championing my journey of advocating for inclusive play and accessibility, while trying to help others along the way.
The playground database for this website was created by calling and emailing over 300 municipalities across Ontario, inquiring about their playgrounds. I initially tracked all of the playgrounds with rubber or turf surfacing on a Google maps list and started a Facebook page to share my findings. And then this was developed, our website, the final product! A resource for those who need very specific playground information and accessible play elements.
All of the playgrounds featured in the database and on the interactive map feature have either rubber or turf surfacing, transfer stations or ramps onto the play structure, and other accessible play opportunities (some have more than others). I have tried to include photos and/or descriptions of the playgrounds to the best of my knowledge. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any comments, descriptions, photos, and/or you find a new location that is not on the list. We welcome any feedback from you.
I know it may feel like globally we still have a long way to go for an inclusive world, but let’s celebrate the efforts of our communities and highlight how far we have come with inclusive play and strive to improve. Thank you all for coming on this journey with us.