The first inclusive playground in a refugee camp

Za’atari Refugee Camp UNICEF opened Jordan’s first fully inclusive playground for children with disabilities. It is estimated that 30 per cent of Syrian refugees in Jordan have specific physical or intellectual needs.

The playground contains a swing, merry-go-round, seesaw and play complex accessible to wheelchairs, creative equipment, including a loudspeaker and xylophone, for children with sensory disabilities and a sandpit, trampoline and beanbag especially designed for children with autism.

It is the first of its kind in a refugee camp. However, like the Brazil-based ALPAPATO project, it has been designed and equipped for children with and without disabilities to play together. It is one of many steps UNICEF and the Government of Jordan is making to create spaces that are accessible for children with disabilities. Their shared goal is to contribute to a more inclusive society by making schools inclusive, enhancing early detection and intervention, improving the accessibility of services and inclusive design and ensuring accurate identification and data on people with disabilities.

The playground was designed and implemented using international best practice by UNICEF partner Mercy Corps. It is hoped that the playground will serve as a prototype for future play facilities in schools and community settings in Jordan and globally, as well as child-friendly settlements.

Tasneem, 10 years old, (front, right) and Asma, 8 years, (front, left) on the trampoline with their friends in the new inclusive playground in her school in Za’atari Refugee Camp. “I like all of them,” she says about the new equipment. “Especially the beanbag. It’s so nice to jump on it. I’m so happy. Photo credit: UNICEF/UN0251358/Herwig.

Robert Jenkins, a UNICEF Jordan Representative said, “in crisis-affected communities, children with disabilities are among the most marginalized, yet they are still at risk of being excluded from humanitarian assistance.” Continuing he added, “our work with the Government of Jordan to build a more inclusive and accessible education system has resulted in over 4,000 children with disabilities enrolling in public schools in host communities and refugee camps since 2012. The opening of this inclusive playground provides even greater optimism for a future where all children can fully participate in learning and play.”

Author: Julia Zvobgo

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

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