Equal access at new playground

DISABLED children can now play happily with their able-bodied peers at the newly opened Accessible Playground at the Penang Municipal Park in Penang.

The 1,000sqm playground has facilities specially built with the disabled in mind such as ramps for wheelchair-bound children.

It is filled with brightly-coloured slides and interactive playground equipment. There are also small structures representing a bird park, a hospital, a garage and a grocery store for the children to explore.

The playground was built at a cost of RM490,000 in a joint effort by the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and the Penang Disabled Persons Sports and Recreation Association (Pesron).

State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the costs included flattening the soil, placing rubber floor mats, providing the playground equipment and landscaping of the area.

He said the playground project showed the state government’s concern towards the disabled community.

“The playground also shows the importance of creating a culture in planning where easy access for the disabled is a compulsory part, not an afterthought,” he said in his speech when opening the facility on Saturday.

He said construction of the facility began on July 15 and was completed on Nov 10.

MPPP president Datuk Patahiyah Ismail said designing and constructing the playground took a few months as the council wanted to ensure it complied with the principles of universal design.

“I’m really thankful to Pesron president Assoc Prof Dr Tiun Ling Ta and his team for their valuable input,” she said in her speech.

Dr Tiun lauded the council’s efforts and hoped the Seberang Prai Municipal Council could also look into creating a similar playground for the disabled community there.

“Such a playground is important to enable the disabled to interact with other members of the community. This helps them feel accepted as part of society.

“Apart from a place to interact, the playground can also be a good therapy place for the disabled children,” he said adding that the public must be more aware of the needs of the disabled.

“We still see certain road shoulders that are not wheelchair-friendly while able-bodied drivers sometimes still park at disabled parking spots in public places.

“I do urge the public to take note and the authorities to be strict in their enforcement to ensure everyone, including the disabled, can enjoy the facilities available,” he said.

During the opening ceremony, Chow planted an endemic Maingaaya Malayana (witch hazel) tree in the vicinity of the playground as part of the council’s greenery programme.

Also present were Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, Kebun Bunga assemblymen Cheah Kah Peng and Society of the Disabled Persons Penang president Teh Lay Kuan.

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