Inclusive play park for medically fragile children

Surrounded by joyful laughter, St. Joseph’s Home (SJH) unveiled the brand new play park at their 175-bed paediatric intermediary care facility in Cape Town. Designed specifically to accommodate children with disabilities, the play area is an oasis for paediatric patients to spend time outdoors in a safe space – something that they are not always able to do due to both their life-limiting conditions and unsafe communities.

On average a medically fragile child in the care of the non-profit facility will spend six months receiving 24-hour nursing care and rehabilitation therapy that includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutritional support and psycho-social support. The most prevalent conditions are traumatic brain injury, neurological conditions, infectious diseases and cerebral palsy.

“Providing play opportunities such as the play park, will not only improve the patient’s psychological well-being but also allow the child to put aside the restrictions imposed upon them by their illness.” says Audrey Gourrah, nursing manager at SJH.

The features of the play park promote engagement and results in joyful discovery with possibilities for movement in a safe, inclusive environment. Play features were designed according to international standards. Architect firm, Square One, oversaw the design, manufacturing and installation of the playground, which includes the custom-designed play equipment, sports field rehabilitation and landscape surfacing.

Hugo van Niekerk, professional landscape architect at Square One says: “We embraced our brief to provide a diverse play environment as an enticing escape from the children’s wards and adjacent school.

“Knowing the hardships the patients are faced with daily, we set out to create a playground that can be enjoyed by all children by incorporating multi-functional, universally accessible play spaces that allow children to connect with nature.”

For more information on St. Joseph’s please visit www.stjosephshome.org.za.

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