Today January 25, Heritage Gardens at Hiranandani, Powai, threw opens its gates and play area to every kid, with or without special needs, to ensure that everyone gets their time in the sun.
A constant grouse voiced by city residents is that there is no open space for kids to run amok. So, it comes as a pleasant surprise that a park in Powai is not only providing youngsters some place to play in, but also going a step further and ensuring that the entire area is accessible to the differently-abled.
“We wanted to do something different in the area, and Surendra Hiranandani (founder of Hiranandani Upscale) offered us this space and told us to go ahead with our plans,” says Eakta Menon, director, club services, Rotary Club of Mumbai, the group that came up with the idea. She adds that Hiranandani will also maintain the space for them.
The entire park has been designed keeping the requirements of the differently-abled in mind, with ramps and wheelchair markings crossing its length and concrete paths available for wheelchairs to be moved around on. In addition, the play area was also given prime focus, with special equipment being brought in from a maker in Gujarat who specialises in making playground equipment for the differently-abled. Eakta says, “Some kids have never been on a swing or slide because the equipment isn’t designed to suit their needs. At this park, they have their own play area. And they can roam around the garden or sit on the grass.”
And Powai parents are happy with this development. Vaibhavi Kamath, 52, housewife, says, “This idea to have an inclusive park is brilliant. And all the kids can interact and learn from one another. After all, just because a child has special needs, doesn’t change the fact that he or she is still a kid and wants to do the same things as other children.”
Handle and play, but with care.
Though the park at Powai is designed in a way that the differently-abled too can participate in each and every activity that is on offer, it also encourages parents to come along and supervise. Sign boards across the park ask for adult supervision while the kids play on the swings or slides. “Most of the time, the kids have never been on a slide or swing before, and having an adult around can be calming influence on them,” says Tanuja Shah, who teaches differently-abled kids art and craft at a centre in Mahim.
Pictures by a Facebook friend from her balcony (Since we are yet to anoint an official photographer for this site): Shraboni Thapar