INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — At a normal playground, a child with a disability or a sensory issue may have a difficult time enjoying themselves.
Thanks to Hoosier FWD and PediPlay‘s new sensory garden, kids of all different abilities can play together without any difficulty.
The playground is at PediPlay, 6239 S. East St. That’s on the south side just southeast of the intersection of U.S. 31 and East Edgewood Drive.
This isn’t your normal playground. It focuses on sensory issues, so kids can have fun while learning how to tolerate strange senses they may not find in their everyday life.
Whether they’re banging on drums and other metals, watching elephant toothpaste explode from a bottle, or feeling the crunch of rocks beneath their feet, these kids are having a blast.
“I put my hand in the mud!” PediPlay Client Cohen Nix shouted.
But at the same time, all of them are going through some type of sensory therapy.
“Therapy for children is … you have to incorporate play,” PediPlay Clinic Director Stephany Jenkins said. “I think, you know, it works in both realms, but using play can help maximize what you can achieve through therapy.”
“It helps you express your feelings when you hit the drums and it helps you calm down,” PediPlay client Elizabeth Williams said.
“It helps me focus and have fun,” PediPlay client Christopher Williams said.
When it comes to sensory issues, some children may become stressed when they encounter something they don’t experience in everyday life.
This playground helps them learn how to tolerate those strange senses without it being scary.
“Kids that have difficulty with sound, they’re afraid of things like firetrucks and alarms in the school,” Jenkins said. “Part of their program may be having to pull them out before the fire alarm goes off. But, what happens if those firemen are coming to save them?”
This style of play lets everyone get involved in different ways, so it doesn’t just help children with their sensory issues, it also helps them become team players.
“Well, if someone can’t use their legs and they have to sit in a wheelchair, you can help them move places by pushing them around in their wheelchair,” Elizabeth Williams said.
“It makes you get friends and even more friends and even more friends,” Christopher Williams said.
While the garden is really just for those going through therapy at PediPlay, Jenkins said she hopes other kids will see it and learn.
“We can then talk about disabilities and being able to understand them a little better and hopefully help someone not become a bully,” Jenkins said.
After fundraising for the garden, there’s still some money left over to go toward a rope bridge. But, the dream is to make everything into an adaptive playground. If you’d like to help make that goal happen, PediPlay says talk with them about how you can volunteer.