Inclusive Play: Making Play Accessible to All With Implay

Inclusive Play: Making Play Accessible to All With Implay

Inclusive Play: Making Play Accessible to All With Implay

Every child deserves to play. At Implay, accessible, inclusive play is at the very heart of what we do. Discover how we’re helping to break down barriers to make playtime more fun for everyone.


We all know that play is crucial for child development and well-being. Unfortunately, many children with additional needs – as well as their families – are continuing to face challenges accessing inclusive play areas. A lot of play areas feature difficult physical or social obstacles, meaning that these children are missing out on the incredible benefits and opportunities provided through play.

The good news is that things are heading in the right direction. More and more indoor and outdoor play areas are being designed to welcome and accommodate children with varying needs and abilities. Yet it’s clear that there is still much more to be done to make inclusive play the norm.

Here at Implay, we’re helping to create inclusive playgrounds for every child.


Why is inclusive play important?

In the UK, an estimated 16 million people are living with a disability, of which 11% are children. This proportion has nearly doubled over the past decade, highlighting the growing understanding of disability beyond just physical limitations.

Today, we recognise that issues with mobility, stamina, dexterity, hearing, and vision make up around half of all childhood disabilities. The remaining 50% includes mental health, learning, and social & behavioural conditions. Disability is more common – and fortunately more accepted – than ever before. It’s clear that inclusivity in play is crucial to enable all children to participate, learn, develop, grow, socialise, have fun, and ultimately, feel valued.


What inclusive play means to us

Some play providers focus on offering dedicated equipment for children with additional needs. Here at Implay, we choose to focus instead on accessible equipment that promotes playing together. With research showing that children with and without disabilities show similar preferences in the type of activities and equipment they want to engage with, we design products that can be used by all.

We believe that, when it comes to soft play, special features designed and developed solely for disabled children can unintentionally result in segregation within play spaces. This separation can reinforce barriers between children with and without disabilities. We hope that our unique approach will help us achieve our goal of breaking down these barriers to create inclusive play spaces for all.


How we do it

Here’s a brief snapshot of how we’re making inclusive, accessible play a reality here in the UK:


1. Sensory play

While we recognise that traditional forms of play are hugely beneficial, we also want to ensure that today’s playgrounds are able to easily incorporate more sensory elements. By focusing on both visual and tactile stimuli – such as bright colours and different materials – we’re making it easier for children with high sensory needs to interact with play equipment and engage in creative, imaginative play.


2. Individual & shared equipment

To break down barriers and encourage inclusion and social interaction with peers, we offer a variety of shapes – such as dual rockers – designed for sharing. However, we also understand that children may often seek opportunities for solitary play, especially if they are overstimulated or overwhelmed, which is why we also offer a wide range of soft play shapes that can be used individually if needed.


3. Design variety

We design and manufacture a variety of products suitable for, and catering to different age groups, preferences, and abilities. These range from basic play mats and baby-friendly ball pools to more adventurous beams and ‘climb and slide’ shapes. By doing this, we’re helping to ensure that play centres across the country have exactly what they need to offer every child an equal and fair chance to engage in play.


4, Focus on proprioception

The sense and understanding of self-movement and body position is something that benefits every child, regardless of their needs or ability. That’s why we focus on proprioception, facilitating activities such as climbing and roaming with our foam-based soft play shapes. When kids are able to stretch and flex their muscles through play, they can all become more aware of their own bodies.


5. Quiet time

We recognise that play doesn’t always mean being on the go. Every kid needs time to recharge the batteries. For children with additional social needs, having a space that promotes fun and learning in a more relaxing way can be hugely beneficial, and key to inclusivity and accessibility. We provide a number of quieter play options, including vibrant foam seating and calming play mats.


Amazing opportunities for every child

Inclusive design goes beyond just accessibility, offering diverse play experiences that address the physical, social, and cognitive needs of every child.


Contact us to learn more about how we’re helping to create welcoming, inclusive, and accessible spaces, regardless of children’s ability.