Rewind back to the summer of 2022 and Challengers had just launched their Big Play Appeal. Their target was to raise £300,000 to build a fully inclusive playground where young disabled people could experience the same play opportunities alongside their non-disabled peers.
Findings from a report by disability equality charity Scope revealed that half of families with disabled children in the UK face accessibility challenges with their local playgrounds. Challengers’ own parent survey further highlighted this issue, with only 6% of Surrey families feeling that there was adequate access to safe and accessible play in Guildford. But with the opening of their new playground at their centre in Stoke Park, Challengers hoped to change this by opening their doors to the public for free ‘family fun’ events.
The We-Go-Swing is a welcome development and marks the UK’s first ever inclusive swing. Engineered in the US, the swing allows for wheelchair and non-wheelchair users to use the swing together simultaneously, eliminating the need for a separate wheel-chair accessible area.
For over four decades the charity has led the way in providing exciting and accessible play for disabled children across the South East, but this new playground looked to benefit the wider community beyond the children they already support. After reaching their fundraising target at the end of January 2023, construction began and Challengers’ dream of creating this fully inclusive playground became a reality. Young people with disabilities often miss out on the chance to interact with peers and as such can feel isolated, so having a playground that can be enjoyed by all is a significant step towards creating inclusivity. It is beneficial for both young disabled people but also their non-disabled peers as it creates a greater understanding and improved integration and creates more opportunities to socialise and reduce the feelings of isolation and exclusion.
In October 2023, families gathered for the official opening of the playground, which boasts a wide array of inclusive and accessible equipment, offering opportunities for climbing, sliding, bouncing, sensory and imaginative play.
“Together we have created a space where all children can play, connect, and thrive. We hope that our new playground will inspire other providers to build inclusive playground in other areas, and make our society a more inclusive place.”
Leo Lion Foundation are delighted to have been able to support the appeal and look forward to seeing the benefits this playground will bring.