Inclusive play and playful places

Children benefit from being outside, interacting with their environment, learning from nature and developing through play. However, children's environments and patterns of play have changed dramatically in recent years: urbanisation means there are fewer natural environments close to home and increasingly parents discourage outdoor play. This makes it critical to create better opportunities for children to play outdoors.

An inclusive approach ensures that available provision caters for all children, young people and families. Creating places that are inclusive also encourages an understanding of diversity. Ensuring that young people and adults can all socialise, play and be part of a community enables them to gain a greater awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of others.

The Sensory Trust has worked on several inclusive play projects resulting in both accessible and inspiring play opportunities.

As part of our inclusive play consultancy work we can offer:

  • review of existing sites and facilities
  • advice on designs to ensure they are inclusive
  • creative design ideas to enhance nature-based play opportunities, in particular ones that are sensory rich and that integrate with the overall landscape
  • engagement sessions with the community who use the facilities and those who may typically be excluded in order to fully understand their needs

Examples of our work

Polesdon Lacey Garden
Client: National Trust

Sensory Trust was commissioned by the National Trust to advise on making the Polesdon Lacey estate more playful. The aim was to encourage greater use by families and to engage children and adults in playful exploration. We produced a series of creative ideas and recommendations to inform the development of plans for new interpretation and enhanced visitor experience.

Out to Play
Sensory Trust and Cornwall Council

New publication inspired by playful places in Cornwall to visit and playful people who have been involved in improving their local play areas. The book passes on ideas for engaging children and young people in designing and developing their own play areas and examples of natural playful features with low installation and low maintenance costs in recognition of the need to make resources stretch further.

The Ask Project
Sensory Trust and Association for Children's Environment, Japan

The Ask Project was designed to address the issue that children generally have fewer nature-based play opportunities and this is especially apparent for children with disabilities. The promotion of better quality environments and more opportunities for play is a crucial issue for healthy growth of children in both the UK and Japan. We worked with children to understand their needs, involving disabled and non-disabled children in the evaluation of public outdoor space.

Children enjoying nature based play disabled children enjoying a sensory-rich labyrinth Out to Play in Cornwall publication