Make Mote Park's new Play Area plans FULLY Accessible!

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As a business that works in the Maidstone area giving people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) entertaining enjoyable experiences, we understand first-hand the limitations Maidstone’s facilities pose in providing these invaluable experiences for disabled individuals. Mote Park (a huge attraction in the area) announced plans for new projects at the park, including an Adventure Zone, Skate Park, Visitor Centre, and a brand new Play Area that ‘has been designed to be fully inclusive and will feature a range of equipment to suit visitors who may have additional accessibility requirements’. Amazing news, right? Wrong! Upon further enquiry it has become clear that the Council’s plan for the play area does NOT cater for children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, and it is unwilling to make further adjustments with the small changes that could make an enormous difference to these individuals and the families and carers that look after them; AND that could secure Mote Park as a pioneering project in working towards making Maidstone a more accessibility-friendly town.

 
The following are some details about the plans and the issues with them:

- They do not include a Changing Places Facility for visitors with accessibility needs. Maidstone Borough Council recommends that visitors requiring fully accessible changing facilities walk to the Leisure Centre for said facilities, neglecting to realise that the only public facility in Maidstone (thats right, there’s only ONE) is at the Maidstone YMCA. The Leisure Centre does not have Changing Places Facilities with full equipment, meaning individuals with these needs cannot enjoy either the Park or the Leisure Centre facilities. Moreover, even if the Leisure Centre were to update their facilities, families or carers would still have to walk all the way over to the centre to use them, where non-disabled individuals are free to use ones in close proximity. This is discrimination.

- The new play area only includes 3 accessible pieces of equipment, one of which is not fully accessible.

- The roundabout is not appropriate for wheelchair use. The Council is refusing to install one with a gate as they believe it will be subject to ‘misuse’, despite this being true of any and all equipment at the park. This is discrimination.

- There is only one piece of sensory equipment in the plans (chimes). Running sensory sessions, we have seen the benefits and enjoyment of sensory equipment for disabled and non-disabled alike. The council is refusing to provide any additional equipment at this stage due to budgeting, despite there being numerous and various new equipment and spaces for non-disabled visitors. This is discrimination.

- Despite the success of wheelchair-access swings in other public parks (such as Dulwich park), the council is refusing to add this equipment to its plans, claiming it is subject to misuse. AGAIN, this is true of all new equipment and is discrimination.

In ‘A Summary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’ Unicef explains:

- Article 2 (non-discrimination): ‘The Convention applies to every child without discrimination, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status, whatever they think or say, whatever their family background.’

- Article 31 (leisure, play and culture): ‘Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.’


Mote Park’s Play Area plans are in violation of these Children’s Rights. The original plans, and Maidstone Borough Council’s refusal to make important changes to them, are discriminatory to Children with Disabilities and disregard their right to play in this public park, not providing them with the wide range of activities they have a right to and deserve.


We implore you to join us in this petition to make the plans fulfil the ‘FULLY INCLUSIVE’ promises that were made.

 



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