With music to lead them along the garden path and scents to hone their senses, visually impaired kids in Cape Town can get down to getting messy in a playground just for them. At a cost of R1 million, a wand has been waved over a sandy plot of land in Bellville to create a playground for children with visual disabilities.
Cape Town City councillor for transport Brett Herron said children from the nearby Athlone School for the Blind had visited the park recently to give the new play equipment and features a test run.
The initiative is part of the city’s non-motorised transport programme, which aims to improve pedestrian facilities across Cape Town. The park has been fitted with universal access – dropped kerbs and tactile paving – along both roads, making it easier for those with limited sight to enter the grounds.
Herron said the park was open to all children, but what made it different was that children with visual impairments could navigate their way around it. The city drew its concept through input from community members, councillors, the Athlone School for the Blind and a mobility expert on how those with limited sight “read” public spaces.
The park has been divided into small play areas. To help the children along the way, there is a scented garden with indigenous plants such as lavender, wild garlic and rosemary where the park borders the outside boundary area.
Low walls, cutting across the park, assist with acoustic navigation as the echoes enable someone to determine their location through hearing as the sound of feet and walking sticks reverberate off the walls.