Oct 07, 2013

    Playground that's disabled-friendly

    THE sight of children with disabilities looking on while others enjoyed themselves at a playground prompted Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Lim Wee Kiak to act.

    Yesterday, he broke ground for an upgraded Canberra Park, which will feature Singapore's first "inclusive" playground, which will be open to all - from wheelchair users to people who are visually handicapped, as well as the elderly - when it is ready next year.

    "I have seen children with disabilities being excluded from playgrounds, and I lobbied for it as no one should be left out of play, interaction or community bonding," said the MP.

    A swing system - the largest here - will give the disabled extra room and security. See-saws have been designed to fit wheelchairs. And play structures, which children can climb and slide down, will feature transfer platforms so those with disabilities can lift themselves up.

    Those with visual disabilities will get play panels with raised textures, and there will be something for children with autism too. The new playground will have swaying and spinning plastic cocoons specially designed to provide them with an enclosed space to escape to if the stimulation becomes too much for them.

    There will also be ramps to help the elderly get to the playground, enabling them to play alongside their grandchildren.

    "This is a positive step because it encourages the disabled to get 'out there' with their peers, rather than just watch," said Society for the Physically Disabled executive director Abhimanyau Pal, who applauded the initiative.

    "This creates opportunities for interaction between able-bodied children and those with disabilities, which will result in greater understanding and acceptance among the next generation of Singaporeans."

    The playground is part of a $2-million upgrade of the 1.5ha park, which will include other facilities such as an amphitheatre and plaza, bicycle stations and a taiji corner.

    Canberra Park is part of plans to enhance sports facilities in the northern part of Singapore. Also on the cards is an integrated sports complex featuring a stadium, swimming pool, hawker centre and library, likely to be next to the Sembawang MRT station.