Manurewa/Weymouth's Keith Park is more accessible for disabled

By Aroha Mane

This summer, playgrounds across Aotearoa will be filled, with the smiles and laughter of children. A new park in Manurewa is hoping to do the same, but it's been specifically designed to cater to children with disabilities.

Today the Manurewa local board and members of the disabled community opened up the very first public park in Auckland designed for children with disabilities. For 5-year-old Israel Ataata it's an opportunity to have fun in a safe way.

“Israel has Engelmann syndrome it's a very rare condition, a lifetime condition. With that comes sleep disturbances and he's also got a Mickey button. Yeah we feel very blessed to have where we can come where it's safe.

“They're inside a closed area with soft ground. Things like bark are not really friendly for us. But yeah, he's gonna love it,” says Israel’s Māmā Darcel Bell-Ataata.

The park cost $700,000 to build. Manurewa Local Board chairman Joseph Allan says it was important for those who needed the park to be involved in the architectural design.

“We had a lady with us living in a wheelchair for 9 months and that for me personally put a focus on what we're gonna do in our playgrounds.

“This was planned with disability organizations such as CCS disability action, Comet Auckland and whole lot of others including deaf Aotearoa."

The idea behind this park is all about being inclusive and accessible, often an idea that isn't considered when building playgrounds.

Deputy chair of the local board Melissa Atama says:

“I think the thing that is important to me is, yes there are disabilities. But the reason why there are disabilities is that there are systems in our society.

“The things we have designed that creates that disability to participate in society fully. So if we try and change our mindset and change the facilities and spaces that we have then it sort of takes away the fact that they are unable to participate.”

It's the first of its kind in Auckland, hopefully, other councils around Aotearoa will follow their lead.