Children with disabilities deserve equal opportunities to take part in the same leisure and recreational activities enjoyed by all children, including playgrounds – which not only provide swings, slides, and other equipment to be enjoyed, but also are a meeting place for children and their families to make friends and play together.
In response to this need, in 2005 Beit Issie Shapiro developed Friendship Park (Park Chaverim), Israel’s first accessible and inclusive playground, providing children with disabilities with an equal opportunity for recreation and fun. The uniqueness of the model is the integration of physical accessibility (the design and special facilities are adapted for children and adults with all ranges of ability) and structured social accessibility (including initiated educational and social activities, events and community festivals) to raise awareness and teach children how to play together.
The Friendship Park Model is widely recognized – Beit Issie shapiro has partnered with the Israeli government and over the past decade has provided consultation to over 30 municipalities throughout Israel on both the physical and social accessibility aspects of the playground.
Internationally, Beit Issie Shapiro has provided consultation to a number of organizations interested in setting up inclusive playgrounds within their community, as well as presented the model at the United Nations and international conferences. The Friendship Park model won the International Play Association’s Right to Play 2014 Award, was selected for the Impact Transfer Program, a unique global community program to replicate solutions for a barrier-free world (powered by Ashoka Austria and the Essl Foundation), and was selected by the Zero Project as a best practice for 2018.
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For more information on how you can bring the Friendship Park model to your community, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.