Playtime is for everyone. The custom swings letting disabled kids soar
It’s the sound all kids wait for. The ringing bell signals the start of break – time to play. They rush out. Laughter echoes as they spread across the playground, the confines of class long forgotten. Helping one another onto colourful swings, the learners of the Martie du Plessis school for children with cerebral and learning disabilities share equally in the joys of play time.
It wasn’t always like this. The inclusive play space was created after the intervention of teacher Anli Starke, who observed the lack of specialised playground equipment creating a noticeable divide between the learners. Seeing children in wheelchairs watching from the sidelines as their peers ran about frustrated Starke. Cooped up and left out is no way for children to spend their time. Something needed to change. Within four weeks of coming up with the idea, a new playground was built to include all children. The innovative equipment features space and security measures that accommodate wheelchairs, making the once unimaginable thrill of rushing through the air on a swing a delightful reality for the learners.
While Starke and her husband came up with the concept, it was the parents and members of the public who rallied together to make it happen. “This playground is an example of people that dreamed together to make a difference in the community,” says Starke. “If everyone stands together, a miracle can happen”.