Improving Playtime for everyone – Wollongong

Caption: Join the Conversation on Wollongong’s first inclusive play space that provides for young people and adults with disability. Image illustrates some of the new features in the plans to expand Stuart Park’s existing playground.

We’re planning to create Wollongong’s first inclusive play space that provides for young people and adults with disability.

From today, Wednesday 24 February, we’re seeking feedback on plans to expand Stuart Park’s existing playground to incorporate new features designed for young people and adults with disability.

“Every now and then a project comes along that really brings joy and this is one such example,” Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.

“This initiative illustrates how Council is really focussed on improving the lives and wellbeing of everyone who calls Wollongong home. The concept plan is meant to be the basis for discussion, to share opinions and ideas to make this the best of playgrounds for all ages and abilities in our city.

“I look forward to hearing feedback from our community on the plans to improve this already popular play space to ensure it caters for even more people in our community.”

The concept for an inclusive play space in Wollongong has been in the planning for some time and is intended to be delivered in two stages. The first stage is currently funded by the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund, corporate and community donations and Wollongong City Council.

In 2019 Council partnered with the University of Wollongong and the Disability Trust on a research project titled “Giving Voice to the Voiceless”, which sought to collect the opinions of people with severe intellectual disability and who are functionally non-verbal about how they would like to use playgrounds.

This research project was one of four that received funding through the University’s Community Engagement Grant Scheme, which seeks to address key challenges in the community. The research results have directly informed the development of a purpose-built, all ages and all abilities playground that is suitable for young people and adults with disability.

Council also talked with young people with disability in our city to find out what they would like included in this space.

“It’s our intention for this playground to offer stimulating equipment and physical challenges that will provide a space for young adults with disability including those who are non-verbal or have limited verbal language,” Cr Bradbery said.

“While there are thousands of playgrounds across Australia, we believe this is a first in that it’s a playground that was built with the needs of young adults with disability squarely in mind.

“We also want it to provide a range of natural and sensory spaces and ultimately form a positive play space that supports people of all ages and abilities.”

Under the plans there will be phased improvements to access, linking paths and parking, and the existing playground would remain open during the construction phase which is planned for mid-2021.

“As a Council we’ve made no secret of our plans to improve accessibility across the city and this is the next step in that process,” Cr Bradbery said.

“I’d encourage those interested in this project to look over the plans and provide their feedback through Council’s engagement platform on our website. The feedback closes on Monday 15 March.”

This project is funded by the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund, corporate and community donations and Wollongong City Council.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.