Call for Southwater park revamp to be disabled friendly

JPCT 061114 S14470038x Kerry McGivern is one of the parents who want facilities for wheelchair bound children at Horsham Park, pictured with her son Dylan, 11 -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140611-103305001

JPCT 061114 S14470038x Kerry McGivern is one of the parents who want facilities for wheelchair bound children at Horsham Park, pictured with her son Dylan, 11 -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140611-103305001

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A mother, whose son is a wheelchair user, has said Southwater Country Park could be ‘a Mecca’ if more activities for disabled children were built.

Last month Horsham District Council agreed to spend £250,000 on ‘Dinosaur Island’ - a new play area inspired by the 125m-year-old iguanodon found in one of the park’s lake.

Work is due to start in the next few weeks and the council promises it to be ‘inclusive’ to all and ‘accessible’ to wheelchair users.

Activities suitable for wheelchair users include drums, a raised sandpit table and a tactile volcano.

However, some parents of children with disabilities feel the council has missed an opportunity.

Sam Buck campaigns for better provision in play areas on behalf of her eight-year-old disabled son Alfie. She said: “People use words like ‘accessible’, but that means people can push their wheelchair around. It’s not inclusive.

“Southwater Country Park would be a Mecca for wheelchair users. We travel all the way to Worthing to Brooklands Pleasure Park. There’s a roundabout, train, horse riding. We all go there; all our friends down on the coast as well.”

Kerry McGivern, whose son Dylan uses a wheelchair, added: “It’s so frustrating. I’ve got two other children who are able bodied.

“If I suggested to them that they were the things we could play with, we wouldn’t go. No child would be happy with that level of play.

“There seems to be a feeling that if a child is wheelchair bound they are quite happy to sit and watch and it doesn’t bother them and they don’t want to play. They still need to be stimulated.”

They both want the council to consider improvements in Horsham Park as well.

A council spokesman said: “One of our aims in developing this exciting new play area is the development of a facility which provides inclusive play opportunities to as many children as possible, including children with mobility issues, wheelchair users, sensory impairments and other disabilities.

“A significant proportion of the site will be accessible to wheelchair users. The play area will include the first level access roundabout in a Horsham District Council play area which can be accessed by wheelchair users and non-disabled children.

“Additionally, there will be an aerial walkway, raised sandpit table, drums, chimes and a tactile volcano which can all be enjoyed by wheelchair users.”