The Amazing Playground Made For Special Needs Kids [VIDEO]

Compassionate design turned an unusable yard into a wonderland for kids with disabilities.

Jan 5, 2017

Like a futuristic tree housing blooms of various interactive toys, the new playground at the Ilanot School for Special Education in Jerusalem, Israel, was thoughtfully and specifically crafted for children with special needs. Inspired by the classic children's book The Giving Tree, every tap, twist, and turn of this incredible playground yields a different scenario of play and each compartment was brainstormed and built to satisfy and adapt to the varying needs, challenges, ages, and developmental capacities of the children at the school.

The lovingly designed concept was developed by Israeli architects Tali Cohen-Anderson and Arielle Blonder, who went through a lengthy prototyping process to find out how to create an environment that would suit every student. From sensory experiences like bleeping horns, rotating water fountains at wheelchair accessible heights, and elongated speakerphones disguised as flowers, to a series of interactive games surrounding the play yard, the play yard is truly one-of-a-kind.

Each vignette has been implemented with extreme thought and care to the needs of the local children, where play and learning are paramount, and each movement teaches lessons of cause and effect, heightens social interaction and, most importantly, enables the kids to play in a safe and compatible environment.

Before the construction of the yard, the children at the Ilanot school only had a neglected yard available, that nobody could really use because it simply was not safe enough. "Seeing the kids for the first time in this outdoor space was very, very exciting," Cohen-Anderson says. Because of the children's physical disabilities, the playground was built with a mindful approach, allowing for all of the equipment to be used without assistance so that the children can interact independently according to their own skills.

"We are actually in the middle of a long learning process," Blonder tells, adding that this one-of-a-kind playground is a model the pair would like to implement in many other places. The schools new courtyard now even features an adjacent greenhouse that was built to teach the students how to plant flowers, herbs and vegetables. Here, they can witness how things grow first hand from seeds to the fruits of their labor. This kind of experience not only shows them how things grow, it also empowers them with the knowledge that despite their disabilities, they can still partake in everyday activities such as gardening.

The Ilanot playground truly is an impressive example of a public space that was architected to serve the children in it, allowing them to play with no bounds on creativity. This impressive prototype will hopefully serve as a model for many playgrounds to come.

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David has a passion for languages and words, and loves to see people happy. He writes about inspiring ideas, amazing technologies and all the wonders of the world.
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