Mar 19 2020, by Fleetwood Urban

Cumberland Shire says 'Everyone Can Play'

Bringing communities together through inclusive play experiences

Have you ever been left out? Missed doing something you really wanted to do? It isn’t a great feeling. So, when the NSW Government introduced its ‘Everyone Can Play’ guidelines back in 2018 we thought it was a fabulous initiative.

Driven by the core ideal that every child deserves the opportunity to be a child – regardless of their age or ability – we’ve always endeavoured to create play structures that are as inclusive as possible. Beyond the fact it’s simply the right thing to do, the health and social benefits are indisputable. Safe and accessible play structures inspire more families to get outdoors to enjoy their local community and create valuable social connections.

‘Inclusive’ doesn’t have to mean expensive

You may be wondering ‘How much does it cost?’ Chances are, it’s a lot less than you’d think. Most of the councils and clients I speak with are surprised to learn how cost-effective inclusive play structures can be. Small modifications can make a big difference. A recently-completed project at Central Gardens in Sydney’s west is a great example of what can be achieved, even when timings and budgets are tight.

Did you know?
Between 2018 and 2023 the NSW Government has committed $20 million in matched funding to help local councils deliver new or upgraded ‘Everyone Can Play’ playgrounds. The first round of funding in 2019 saw 34 different community projects chosen across NSW.

A new start for Central Gardens

In mid-2019 we were approached by civil contractors Daracon to help transform a run-down park in the Sydney suburb of Merrylands under the Everyone Can Play guidelines. The end client, Cumberland Shire Council, had only a limited budget and a very tight timeline. But we were undeterred as we knew our DesignExecute2™ delivery process would provide a clear and efficient way forward. And it certainly did.

The specific brief was to deliver a new customised timber playground at Central Gardens based on design drawings from landscape architecture firm, JMD Design. Some of the key elements of their design included:

– Timber play structure (custom design)
– Timber access ramp (custom design)
– 3 x slides (off the shelf)
– Fireman’s pole (off the shelf)
– Shopfront (custom design)
– Upgraded shade structure (custom design)

Inclusive and creative

From our initial design brainstorms, right through to final installation, the Fleetwood project team collaborated regularly with JMD Design, Daracon and Council. We were determined to meet the Everyone Can Play guidelines at every stage, whilst also staying true to the original design vision.

All elements and materials were carefully considered to make them as safe and inclusive as possible for local families. The design of the timber ramp was especially important. It provided safe and easy wheelchair access to the main play structure, while also assisting children who require other forms of mobility assistance.

Officially opened to the public in early 2020, Central Gardens has gone from a tired old park to a thriving new family destination with something, quite literally, for everyone. It boasts a series of exciting new play structures that every child in the local community, no matter their age or ability, can now access easily and enjoy safely. Drop by for a visit if you’re ever in the neighbourhood. The smiles on the kids’ faces say it all.

Like to know more about inclusive play structures? 

Check out our ‘Everyone Can Play’ project at Oatley Park.

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