Paces is a specialist centre in Sheffield for children and young adults with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders. Paces meets the physical and cognitive needs of children which are often not met holistically elsewhere. Paces School currently supports 40 children every year.
Up until now there has been no accessible outdoor play area on Paces campus. Our long-term goal has been to develop an inclusive play area that encourages all children to play and have fun together.
During school hours the inclusive play area will be used primarily by Paces School, but children from other providers of children’s services on Paces Campus and local community groups will also use the area. The aim of the project is to encourage both non-disabled children and children with physical, cognitive and sensory impairments to play and have fun together.
Physical activity is essential in ensuring continued mobility in Paces pupils with cerebral palsy and is a central element in our physical educational programmes. Parents describe how their children achieve greatly increased physical function, such as walking, sitting upright and using their hands as a result of our programmes. However, these programmes of support have been limited by the fact that the majority of play activity takes place in a classroom environment.
As a result of the support from DM Thomas Foundation for Young People, the inclusive play area at Paces will:
• Increase children’s confidence
• Improve social and communication skills
• Increase flexibility and fine and gross motor skills helping Paces school children to control balance and develop coordination skills
• Help increase longer term independence
• Increase physical activity for all children
• Encourage both non-disabled children and children with physical, cognitive and sensory impairments to play and have fun together (helping to break perceived barriers of disability)
• Encourage parents and families to get involved in their children’s play
On Monday 11th September, Paces celebrated the official opening of our inclusive play area. The opening event gave us an opportunity to thank the many supporters of the project. Staff from Hilton Sheffield, Gemma Jolliffe Stacey Morris, Tyler Unwin and Marissa Maduro, were present to see the official cutting of the ribbon.
At the opening Vicki Clarry, mum of Nico, said: “Our new inclusive playground means that our children will be able to access all play equipment like all children should. It’s exciting and emotional to think that my eight year old daughter will be ABLE to play with her younger brother in a playground. Normally she would be sat in her wheelchair watching him run around, which could only be making such a negative impact about herself and her disability.
“Other playgrounds across the city sometimes have one accessible piece of equipment which have restrictions such as selected opening times, can be overrun with children that are more mobile and have disabled parking issues. The nearest park with a few pieces of accessible equipment is eight miles away from the school.
“The play area will allow children a place to meet up, a safe place to express themselves and develop their physical health, confidence and self-esteem. As parents we will be able to meet, share experiences, and develop friendships that will enable us as families to informally support each other.
“The play area will make such a significant improvement to Paces School and be enjoyed by all that access the Paces campus.”