Participant Info

First Name*
Middle Initials
Last Name*
Role in the Network*
WG-member, Management Committee Substitute
Scientific Area
Year of PhD Award
Name of organisation*
Beit Issie Shapiro
Area of Work*
Leisure is one of the spheres of life important to the wellbeing of every person and an essential part of a good quality of life. Three important international documents1 declare leisure as one of the spheres where equal opportunities must be ensured to all people, including people with disabilities. Children with disabilities have as much need for leisure activities as any other child. A playground is a natural, normative place that enables all children - and in particular children with disabilities - to gain rich experiences, develop skills and meet other children. Playing in a playground takes a large portion of most children’s leisure time. Playing affects physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing directly. In the context of play environments, integration means that a child with disabilities and a child without disabilities play together at the same place and experience a positive connection, enabling them to get to know each other, leading to positive change in attitudes, to acceptance and understanding. Positive social ties are one of the goals of integration. “Friendship Park” is Israel’s first accessible and inclusive playground, which provides children with various types of abilities with an equal opportunity for recreation and fun. The uniqueness of our model is the integration of physical accessibility (the design and special facilities are adapted for children and adults with all ranges of ability) and structured social accessibility (including initiated educational and social activities, events and community festivals) to raise awareness and teach children how to play together.
Expertise Contributions*
As coordinator of this and other local and national community programs at Beit Issie Shaprio, I lead a team which develops educational programs aimed at changing the perceptions of preschoolers towards people with disabilities, as well as train kindergarten teachers about diversity and accepting children with different abilities. As part of our goal to establish similar playgrounds nationwide, we have partnered with government ministries and today provide guidance to some 30 municipalities throughout Israel on both the physical and social accessibility aspects of the playground. Internationally, we are consulting a number of organizations interested in setting up inclusive playgrounds within their community, as well as presenting our model at the United Nations and international conferences. Friendship Park recently won the International Play Association’s Right to Play 2014 Award.