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Hong Kong needs inclusive playgrounds for disabled children

A pilot study reveals a number of existing playgrounds in Hong Kong lack inclusive facilities that cater to the needs of disabled children. The research also highlights obstacles and opportunities for change.

Researchers found no disabled children playing or present in nearly all of the play spaces in Hong Kong. They conclude playground designs ignore the needs of disabled children and a shortage of land are some of the obstacles. As well as the government’s failure to provide standardized policy and guidelines about inclusiveness.

The right to play

According to the advocacy group, Child Rights International Network up to 200 million children globally have a disability and it is not their impairments that are disabling but the environments and attitudes around them.

Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child urges countries to “recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts”.

In relation to that Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that children with disabilities like other children should have equal access to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities.

Governing bodies and policies

In Hong Kong playgrounds are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the Housing Authority and Housing Department, or private sectors. The authors of Inclusive play in urban cities detail how LCSD claimed seventy percent of their 659 children’s playgrounds were inclusive when in reality only 4.5% of them are equipped with inclusive facilities.

According to the researchers a 2015 survey about Hong Kong playgrounds conducted with children, government officials, playground experts and landscape designers, “found that the playgrounds had a ‘fast-food’ standardized characteristic” as the priority was to reduce the number of complaints and easy maintenance of the playgrounds.

The paper also underscores how the government’s failure to provide a clear definition of inclusive play and playgrounds had a snowball effect on policy implementation.

Conclusion

The authors state that in a heavily populated city such as Hong Kong lack of space is inescapable which is why creative designs are paramount so children with disabilities are included. Moreover, they argue ensuring children with disabilities can access playgrounds helps promote an inclusive society and “it is the first step to fight discrimination and marginalisation”.

Author: Julia Zvobgo

Julia Zvobgo is a Cultural Anthropologist and the Community Manager of Child in the City.

5 comments op “Hong Kong needs inclusive playgrounds for disabled children”

Helen Lynch|15.02.18|14:23

Playright in Hong Kong have been working to address this issue however- in collaboration with UNICEF.Play advocacy group Playright (www.playright.com.hk) Wong, Yuen, and Chiu presented their inclusive playground project at the International Play Association conference in Calgary- see IPA for their presentation: Better Playgrounds: advocating inclusive play environments for all children in Hong Kong,2017. Their project resulted in the publication of an Inclusive Play Space Guide: great work!

Kathy Wong|15.02.18|16:59

May share the source or more info about the pilot study?

Julia Zvobgo|16.02.18|09:26

Hi, Helen thanks for the tip! Hi Kathy here is the article mentioned https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705817329247

Ilse van der Put|26.02.18|09:05

This is great and very necessary. In the Netherlands, the Speeltuinbende (playground tribe) already managed to create more than 75 Inclusive Playgrounds. None of these playgrounds is the same, they are all different. Last Friday we have tested with a team of 40 children (with and without disabilities) a nature playground in Rotterdam. I would love to send you the results of this test en show you more about the Speeltuinbende and the work we do. http://www.speeltuinbende.nl

Julia Zvobgo|26.02.18|09:06

Hi IIse sounds fascinating I will be in touch!

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