New parks in Chile accessible for children with disabilities

Americas, October 8 2011

A number of parks in boroughs around Chile’s capital are adopting designs and equipment to allow children with physical disabilities to enjoy the city’s public spaces.

The “integrated park” idea seeks to provide universal access to public spaces, removing architectural barriers and facilitating the mobility of all people, regardless of physical limitations.

The project is a matter of national importance, since 13 percent of Chileans have some kind of disability, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

The affluent boroughs of Las Condes, Santiago Centro and Vitacura have already adopted the initiative in their green areas. Integrated parks located in those communities feature play equipment like double swings for people with mobility disabilities and rotating games for children using wheelchairs. Other park equipment provides activities for people with visual and hearing disabilities. Vitacura alone offers some 15 public squares and parks with disabled-friendly equipment.

The Maipú borough is currently undertaking a similar initiative by building a new integrated park on an eight-acre plot that was previously left vacant and overrun with trash. Park designer Jorge González told El Mercurio that he will develop the new project with accessible trails for wheelchairs, signs for blind people, sidewalks with cut curbs and play equipment that is functional for everyone.

The mayor of Maipú, Alberto Undurraga, said, “The idea of the park is to build a space where everyone has a place. There will be bike paths, jogging trails, exercise circuits and games in which blind children or people with mobility disabilities can also participate.”

The project in Maipú should start this week and it’s supposed to be ready during the first half of 2012. It will cost around US$ 1.4 million.

Source: The Santiago Times

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