Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

Replicating fully accessible and inclusive playgrounds throughout the country

Beit Issie Shapiro (BIS) is a non-profit organization that develops and provides innovative therapies and services for children with disabilities and their families. BIS is not only a service provider but also a social change agent, aiming to scale up its solutions through changing attitudes, training and impacting legislation. Based in the city of Ra’anana, Israel, in 2006 the organization developed Friendship Park, the country’s first accessible and inclusive playground, and it has developed a methodology to replicate them all over Israel. Today, the model has been replicated in 30 municipalities throughout the country.

“I really feel that Friendship Park was the breakthrough for inclusion for Avital.”

Ilana Grunberg Mother of Avital
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Replicating fully accessible and inclusive playgrounds throughout the country
Organisation:Beit Issie Shapiro
Country
of Implementation
Israel

FACTS & FIGURES

  • In 2009 the National Insurance Institute and an additional government fund agreed to provide funding to municipalities developing accessible playgrounds based on the Friendship Park model. The model has been replicated in 30 municipalities all over Israel.
  • In 2016 more than 500 children with disabilities used the playground in Ra’anana.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Israel was lacking accessible public play spaces that could give children with disabilities and their families the opportunity to enjoy leisure activities.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Children with and without disabilities playing on a playground with accessibility features.The playground was developed involving all relevant stakeholders, including people with disabilities, who followed each development stage to ensure that all perspectives and needs were addressed.
The uniqueness of Friendship Park and the key to its success is the integration of physical accessibility together with structured social accessibility. Physical accessibility is ensured by the topography of the playground itself, the restrooms, and each piece of equipment. Realizing that physical accessibility is not enough for true inclusion, however, BIS developed the playground as a platform for social change, structuring social and educational activities that reach children with and without disabilities, their families, and teachers.

Social inclusion takes place through programmes that aim to raise awareness and teach children how to play together. The playground is open to spontaneous play, but also offers a variety of initiated activities, including inclusive get-togethers of families of children with and without disabilities, and inclusive holiday festivals.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

In 2010, BIS received a five-year grant to develop two additional playgrounds based on the Friendship Park model, and both now have active social programming and are under the responsibility of their respective municipalities. Since then, the model has been replicated in 30 municipalities throughout Israel.
Since Friendship Park was developed with the intention to be replicated, the work process was documented thoroughly from start to finish. In addition, the model also takes cultural sensitivities into account. BIS has presented Friendship Park at the United Nations and international conferences, as well as shared the model in countries in Africa and South America and in the United Kingdom.
The initial establishment of Friendship Park was funded by the National Insurance Institute of Israel, the Welfare Ministry, the Ra’anana municipality, and foundations, totalling $1.26 million. Today, the Ra’anana municipality is responsible for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the playground, as well as the social programming. In 2016 the municipality’s budget for the playground was $170,000: 20 per cent for the maintenance and 80 per cent for the social and educational programmes.
CONTACT
FACTSHEET

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