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Playground Politics: What It Can Teach Us About Inclusion

Hoi Fei
25 August 2023 13:33

I was in Singapore visiting my family and staying with my sister and 5 year-old neice. One evening, we took her to the playground and as we were sitting and chatting while she played, we noticed that she was having a disagreement with a few older children. She got upset and came over saying sulkily that "They didn't want to play with me because I am too small." My sister went over to investigate a little. It turned out that they were playing a game of tag and had made up rules where they could go. They had decided that anywhere in the playground was allowed including the higher and bigger play equipment. However, my niece, being a really small 5 year-old, found it difficult to climb up the bigger equipment to chase the older ones and declared that it was too dangerous for her to take part. After my sister's intervention, they decided they could change the rules a bit so my niece could play.

(Photo by Oakville News on Unsplash)

One of the boys declared if Isabelle, my niece, is doing the chasing then no one should go up the equipment but if other children are doing the chasing, then they can run anywhere. With this new rule agreed on, they played happily for a good half an hour. When they left, they told Isabelle the evenings they would be in the playground again next week and that they hope to see her again. 

That got me thinking about inclusion. You see, sometimes we can be a bit like these older children who think that people with disabilities will not be able to take part because they can't adhere to the rules or the rules make the activities too dangerous for them. However, if we can adapt the rules or the set-up, everyone can take part. Also it doesn't just benefit those who have disabilities but can benefit everyone like these children discovered that it can be just as much fun, and they can make new friends.