Accessible playground launched at CHW

A playground with a variety of sensory equipment, designed in consultation with parents of children with diverse needs, clinicians, and members of the local Aboriginal community, has opened at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.  

New South Wales Health Minister Ryan Park officially launched the wheel-chair accessible playground, the first of four play areas to open at the hospital as part of the CHW Stage 2 (CHW2) Redevelopment Project, in April.  

For many patients and their families, play spaces can be an outlet to alleviate stress and spend time together outside a clinical setting. They also give children the opportunity to explore their creativity and imagination outdoors. 

Among the patients enjoying the new sensory equipment was five-year-old Connor. Connor was born with bowel complications and has undergone countless surgeries at the hospital since he was a baby. 

"The playground lets them be a normal child, get out and experience fresh air," said Connor's Mum, Whitney. 

It helps Connor get out of the room for a bit, and it's somewhere completely different from the rest of the place, with the sights and sounds," added Connor's Dad, David.  

Another long-term patient, three-year-old Boston, enjoyed playing on the musical pipes with his family. 

"He likes anything that moves virtually and likes the boat and pretending to sail," said Lorraine. 

"It's fantastic. You can come out and have a sandwich or lunch here, and the children can play and look around."  

The playground, delivered by Kane Constructions, engages various senses through sensory equipment, including spinning and rocking equipment, a light tower, squeezing cylinders, a rain wheel, and a coconut hut, amongst native plants and accessible footpaths.  

Time in hospital can be hard for anyone, let alone children and their families. That is especially the case for young people with diverse abilities and mobility aids," said Health Minister Ryan Park. 

"This new playground is designed with inclusive features and accessible play equipment, pathways and seating areas that engage children's imaginations through touch, sound, and visual elements." 

Community Health, Ambulatory, Rehabilitation, Population Health and Allied Health (CARPA) Clinical Program Director Sandra Pengilly said the playground will have therapeutic benefits for many patients. 

We know that creating a contextual play space allows children to explore their surroundings, make connections, and learn about themselves and their environment," said CARPA Clinical Program Director Sandra Pengilly. 

"We hope that children who use this play space can build a picture of a hospital that can be a comforting, supportive and a trusted place."  

The $619 million CHW2 redevelopment is expected to be completed by 2025. It includes the construction of the Paediatric Services Building, Multi-storey Car Park, the refurbishment of existing parts of the hospital and a revitalised forecourt.