How the Kamalani Inclusive Playground Benefits Keiki (Children) with Developmental Challenges
Beyond disabilities, there are abilities. At InspiredPlay Hawaiʻi, our core focus is to provide designs that cater to children of ALL abilities.
So, what’s really so great about Kamalani being the first inclusive playground on Kauaʻi? Sure, we’ve shared how an inclusive playground benefits the community, however, Kamalani is so much more than an awesome new playground in the eyes of many families across Kauaʻi. Children on Kauaʻi who experience developmental challenges such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Intellectual Disability (ID), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Learning Disabilities now have a play space that empowers them to experiment with safe new ways to play outside, helping to boost their confidence in all areas of their lives.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states: developmental [challenges] are a group of conditions caused by an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental stage of a child’s life, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually lasts throughout the person’s life.
Scott McCubbin, Member of the Friends of Kamalani & Lydgate Park committee and one of the Surfrider Foundation Kauaʻi Chapter leaders, says, “[Kamalani] will provide easy access to keiki with disabilities so that they can fully enjoy the park experience in a unique and safe way.” And he’s right!
Play, essentially, is all about interaction; interaction with the environment and the people and objects within that environment. One difficulty that children with diverse abilities face is feeling uncomfortable sharing space with others. At Kamalani, there are various stations to provide all children with the ability to play solo, engage with a trusted friend or caregiver, and even make new friends. We designed Kalamani to consider a wide range of play possibilities and combinations to make it truly inclusive to any child’s play preference so they can grow their confidence at their own pace.
When used to demonstrate positive behaviors and roleplay through social scenarios, inclusive playgrounds, like Kamalani, help all children gain a deeper understanding of day-to-day life skills. When taught compassionately, inclusive play encourages all children to be kind to one another and that playing together is often more fun than when playing alone. With so many social play opportunities designed into the playground, children will be able to nurture foundational life skills, like communication and problem solving, as they play.
Already, the Kauaʻi community is thrilled for the new Kamalani Playground, “My daughter uses a wheelchair. To design a playground that goes beyond breaking physical barriers to also addressing cognitive and emotional development is state of the art.” says Tom Worthen, active volunteer FK-LP beach cleanup volunteer. “Mahalo to everyone who is supporting this project.”