Hockley Heath mum's plea for accessible play equipment at parks - The Solihull Observer

Hockley Heath mum's plea for accessible play equipment at parks

Solihull Editorial 28th Jul, 2022   0

A HOCKLEY HEATH mum is calling for Solihull’s parks to have accessible play equipment for all children to enjoy.

Annabel Goodman says she has been left with a sprained wrist, pulled shoulder and back muscles after lifting her five-year-old in and out of the swings at Hockley Heath park.

Libby has Down’s syndrome she also has mobility problems associated with the condition including poor balance, hypertonia, hyper mobility and she is registered severely sight impaired so is unable to safely use the swings aimed at older children.

Annabel said: “We visit two or three times a day, the swing being her favourite.

“However, at 20kg and 104cm in height it is becoming extremely difficult to get her in and out of the baby swing.

“Very soon she will no longer be able to access the equipment at our local park in Hockley Heath.”

She has joined disability charity Scope’s campaign Let’s Play Fair: inclusive playgrounds which is calling for the Government to invest in a inclusive playgrounds fund so all children can be themselves.

Annabel spoke at Hockley Heath Parish Council’s (HHPC) monthly meeting last week about the importance of accessible play equipment.

Speaking after the meeting HHPC said: “HHPC will be working with her mum to modify the provision of a swing that will suit her child’s needs and others with similar needs.

“Hopefully, we can make these changes rapidly, so her child can have a great summer this year in the HHPC Park.”

Solihull MP, Julian Knight, and Meriden MP, Saqib Bhatti, have joined forces and have written to Solihull Council, to ask what the Council is doing to ensure that children’s playgrounds are accessible for children with disabilities.

The Conservative MPs said they have also submitted a formal question in the House of Commons to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to ask what steps the Government is taking to encourage local authorities to bring children’s playgrounds up to accessible standards.

In a joint statement Mr Knight and Mr Bhatti said: “Children’s playgrounds are vitally important for the emotional and physical wellbeing of our young people, in addition, playgrounds provide many learning opportunities through play. For this reason, we both agree that children’s playgrounds should be accessible for all children.”

Councillor Ken Hawkins, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure, said: “When improvements or new equipment is added to any Council playground the local community is consulted, including seeking the views of parents of children with disabilities who use the park.

“An example of this is at Knowle Park where an accessible swing was installed in August 2021 for which parents have the option of purchasing a harness to use on the swing seat when visiting the park.

“Many of our sites also have accessible roundabouts that can be used by children in wheelchairs (and pushchairs), whilst other parks have sensory equipment such as music panels.”

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