Remember running around the playground when you were a kid? Maybe hanging from the monkey bars or seeing who could swing the highest?
It wasn't just a mindless energy burn. Many have called play the work of childhood. Play teaches children how to make friends, make rules and navigate relationships. But for kids whose disabilities keep them from using playgrounds, those opportunities can be lost.
New federal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act are changing the landscape for public playgrounds, requiring them to include equipment, materials and designs that provide children with disabilities the same play opportunities as typical children.
Last year, the federal government made access to play areas a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act. "Play areas are not just places where kids have fun," says Eve Hill, a civil rights lawyer with the Justice Department, which enforces the ADA. "They are places where kids learn to interact with the world, and with each other."