We, humans, are so immersed in our own lives, dwelling on things that we do not have and trying to achieve them, that we never stop to think about what we have that others don’t.
As kids, when we used to go to parks and had a gala time, one thing that we never seemed to notice was that there weren’t any kids with a visual impairment having the time of their lives.
The City of Cape Town and Transport for Cape town unveiled an outdoor blind friendly park on August 23. This is the first time the city has constructed a park for the blind.
It is located in Bellville between Berol Street and Beroma Crescent and is within walking distance of the Athlone School for the Blind.
The park has been designed keeping in mind the special needs of these children. It would give them a space to interact with the visually able people with utmost ease.
All the swings are the same that are present in any other park, but are developed in a way that people with less visibility or no visibility can use them.
Demarcated into smaller closed-off play areas, it comprises of low-seating walls, cutting across the grounds, which will help with acoustic way-finding. The Cape Town Magazine reported, “The sounds of feet walking reverberate off the walls and the echoes enable one to determine their location through hearing. Along the seating walls, an extensive relief mural has also been installed”.
The walls are lined with mosaic that the children can touch and feel.
The curator of the park, Lovell Friedman said, “All of the stories are depicted by mosaic designs [some of the Athlone School children were involved with the making of the clay designs and moulds], those with impaired sight can feel and following the walls ‘reading’ the various stories. It is truly a labour of love.”
The city’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron explained, “If you drive around the area you would see that we have upgraded all of the sidewalks with special-needs pedestrians in mind – there are tactile paving and dropped curbs. After doing such, we had some budget leftover and after engaging with the Athlone School for the Blind they identified that they needed a play area”.
The park is equipped with paving materials which would guide the visually impaired children. Along the park’s border, a scented garden with indigenous plants such as lavender, wild garlic and rosemary has also been planted.
Once the garden has developed, this area will help stimulate an individual’s smell organ as a beautiful fragrance will be released when they brush passed the various plants and bushes.
Cape Town has set a humungous example for the whole world. We need to start considering the needs of the special children, and design schools, parks and even restaurants according to them. They have a right to enjoy the world and to look at it through the same lens as we do. Don’t you think?
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