S. Parameswari was visibly excited as her wheelchair was pushed onto a small structure at the Infinity Park. Once she was on the modified swing, her father gently pushed her and she was thrilled.
A modified swing, merry go round, climbers as well as a herb garden and a sandpit are some of the facilities at the Infinity park in Santhome adjoining the State Resource Centre for Inclusive Education of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
A project of the Greater Chennai Corporation and Smart City (P) Ltd along with the Disability Rights Alliance, Kilikili and CityWorks, the model sensory park and garden was conceived to be an inclusive space for all abilities.
“A safe play area for children with disabilities is much needed and the park seems to offer that. Since it is close to her school as well, we’re excited about the park and hope to come here frequently,” said Parameswari’s father R. Chelladurai, who had brought her to the facility. He said that the rubberised flooring in the play area would ensure that the children do not hurt themselves easily.
Tactile markers have been used to line the pathways, to ensure easy navigation for persons with visual impairment. The park also has an accessible basketball court where the hoops are placed at a lower level for children on wheelchairs.
On the sides of the park, games such as Aadupuliyattam and snakes and ladders have been fixed on stone installations for people or children who want to stay in a quieter area of the park. An accessible toilet has also been constructed on the premises.
“An accessible park is extremely critical to a city like Chennai and we had several discussions with the children themselves as well as parents, teachers, therapists and other people who are part of the disability sector to provide inputs,” said Kavitha Krishnamoorthy, founder, KiliKili , a network of parents of children with disabilities, who have been focussing on inclusive play areas.
The Corporation was receptive to their suggestions and was ready to get feedback over the next few months to accommodate any modification if necessary, she said.
The park was inaugurated on Monday by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami through video conferencing. The government has said that the park, first of its kind in the State, has come up over an area of 1,529 sq m.