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Make Inclusive Design Playful!

Practising inclusive design with affordable playful outdoor structures that provide joy and wellbeing for all.

Photo of Friends of Mmofra

Written by

What problem does your idea solve?

We find that children with disabilities and their caregivers in Ghana, who experience daunting obstacles in everyday survival, would love to access play and relaxation along with everyone else, however this need gets very little attention in efforts to support the disabled. Happiness matters, and so does the wellbring of families and caregivers on the frontline! When we design outdoor environments to be inclusive, the effect is potentially transformative for everyone.

Explain your idea

Our idea is to design structures for park or outdoor settings that allow children with disabilities to be included in play activities, with the added benefit of achieving some of their physical therapy needs. Outdoor structures delivering both therapy and play can be designed to be used and enjoyed by all, removing the stigma of isolation. Whilst working in 2015-16 in Accra Ghana at Mmofra Place children's park we experimented with modifications to swings to make them universally accessible. Our early prototype was "Kofi's swing". Designing to meet the needs of a young person with cerebral palsy resulted in a structure that was safe and above all, fun for visitors from toddlers to grandparents. In addition, it assisted with balance. What we learned from simple prototypes made from repurposed wood and a few other readily available materials was that designing for the disabled did not require a separation from the general public. Rather, if we made the structure central, functional and "cool", it would send a strong message of inclusion and dignity. We're moving to the next step of further testing, improving the prototype & designing additional structures for playful outdoor therapy. These might include weather-resistant standing frames, sensory activity forms for the visually impaired, and supported mobility. We are working with principles of quicker, cheaper prototyping with attention to structural integrity and safety.

Who benefits?

Every user of a playful outsdoor space benefits when we can bring out the child in everyone - from infants to adults, of all abilities. 6 year old Ama, who has cerebral palsy rarely leaves home except for indoor therapy sessions with a local support group. At the park the whole family - including her mother and older sibling - feels welcome and able to enjoy various activities. The idea spreads better when people can see and experience a successful, replicable model.

How is your idea unique?

Many ideas are delivering important and useful services. We hope to deliver happiness & creativity as well, and to see joy in the faces of children who can finally enjoy play. Ghana is only recently moving in the direction of reviving its urban parks, and there are still very few public children's parks that are functioning well. Inclusive design for play with disabled children in mind is pretty revolutionary. Our partner Mmofra Foundation manages the only urban children's park laboratory where child-centered and nature-based ideas are developed, prototyped, tested and shared. Our collaboration means we have a unique opportunity to develop and test many ideas in this inclusive design maker space. Our participatory design involves mothers, caregivers and persons with disabilities from concept to production.

Tell us more about you

Based in Spokane, Washington, USA, Friends of Mmofra supports creative solutions to cultural and artistic problems inherent to urban/socio-economic and educational deficits locally and abroad. We call these parallel projects. Our board includes educators, artists, community activists and inclusive design practitioners who work locally and abroad in collaboration with Mmofra Foundation Ghana. We are brainstorming this challenge from Fellow, a co-working space in downtown Spokane!

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Our design challenges include: (1) Materials which can resist adverse environmental conditions such as moisture, direct sun/heat, fungus/insects and salinity. (2) Sourcing of materials- local and global? (3) The incorporation of stabilizing elements like straps and belts (or designing around these). (4) How to ensure that children with disabilities get their turn on structures that are fun for all. (5) How to incorporate playful elements that can effectively distract during a therapy session, e.g. in a standing frame. (6) Transportation and transfer for children with mobility challenges. (7) How can the idea be sensitive to the problem of sensation overload for some PwD. (8) What sizes of structures?

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Ghana

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

Attachments (1)

Friends of Mmofra_ShareCare.pptx

Pilot project with Mmofra Foundation and ShareCare Ghana, 2016

107 comments

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Photo of Amowi Phillips
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As one of the "connectors" between the two great teams involved in this idea, I commend Friends of Mmofra's Jennifer Compau and Barbara Loste for their 2016 onsite contributions to early prototyping! (By the way, "Mmofra" means "children"). FoMm met and partnered with ShareCare Ghana, a cerebral palsy support group founded by two extraordinary women with disbilities. The ShareCare community of children, caregivers and therapists were the first to test our original prototype, "Kofi's Swing". It was incredibly moving - mothers playing hopscotch in a park whilst their children had their therapies outside in the fresh air. This is most definitely an important initiative to fill a huge gap.

Photo of Barbara Loste
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I had the opportunity to witness this creative idea emerge quite literally from the ground up. By using repurposed materials, the "Kofi swing" has become a gathering spot for ALL kids, their caregivers, Park staff, and casual visitors. What delight inclusivity brings to Mmofra Place in Accra!

Photo of Friends of Mmofra
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Barbara, thanks for your post. The word you use, "delight", stands out. Most of the ideas in the challenge are really helpful and caring. We think "happiness" and "delight" are goals too! How do we design to put smiles on faces?

Photo of Barbara Loste
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The literature around "play" suggests that delight is very powerful. Why shouldn't all (urban) children experience joyful delight under a refreshing canopy of trees? More to the point, with ideas such as the one proposed by Mmofra Place, special-needs visitors can be welcomed and cherished.

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Photo of jennifer compau
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This challenge is an inspiring and much needed platform to push the possibilities…
Four years ago I began working with children with disabilities in my art room at school, providing the opportunity to create side by side with their general education peers. Art with it’s unlimited ways for people to create and communicate provided the perfect medium and proved to be a benefit to everyone involved. The program became the SPARK: art partnership program, with a stated mission of valuing the inclusion of persons with disabilities and abilities with dignity for the purpose of forming remarkable relationships and exploring unlimited possibilities through art.
It pushed the possibilities for students and communities in the Northwest US and has inspired reevaluation of expectations and inclusion in schools. This summer we extended it to Mmofra Place and ShareCare in Accra, and the experience, as you can see from the story and photos in the challenge was a successful beginning, full of inspiring possibilities.
I am excited this year to be working on the design of the functional play/therapy structure. Of the many goals our design team has in mind, the one that I will be 'listening' for --that will confirm the prototype is designed with the outcomes we intend, will be when children, able and disable, signal toward the play/therapy stand with delight and say, if they are verbal… ‘when is my turn?’

Photo of Friends of Mmofra
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Jennifer, thanks for this input! Your work in dignified inclusion through creative expression has been remarkable. (By way of introduction: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/nov/11/special-education-students-showcase-artwork/). We appreciate your capacity to draw students in Northwest US classrooms into this design process and we're eager to see what they come up with!

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There are very few people who hope to deliver happiness & creativity as all are busy in their own life but you are not from those kind of people and provided playful outdoor space to those children’s with different disabilities with having ambitious of enjoying every moment of life. Hats off to you & others who run a parallel projects and keep doing & sharing!

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Wow! Pleased to explore such an amazing playful outdoor designs which is affordable & provide joy and comfortable for all. And it is so nice of you that you come up with this innovative ideas to indulge disabled children with play activities in from of physical therapy needs.
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Joseph,
If you like, I can introduce you to Alex Truesdell, who is dong wonderful work with cardboard furniture.
http://www.adaptivedesign.org/?lightbox=dataItem-j1i3rj0m
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--allan goldstein

Photo of Joseph MUNYANDAMUTSA
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Great idea! play is a key developmental experience that help children to grow healthy. I work with children with cerebral palsy and play improves their functional independence. Good luck friends of Mmofra!

Photo of Friends of Mmofra
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Joseph, thanks for checking in! We posted a comment and some questions on your idea as well. As a matter of interest, is there any kind of collaboration in Rwanda or East Africa amongst people who are designing the kind of enabling structures you propose?

Photo of Joseph MUNYANDAMUTSA
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The APT industry is not developed in Rwanda and east Africa in general but there is a collaboration among rehabilitation professionals from two centers in Rwanda and the university to promote the designing of such furniture.

Photo of Friends of Mmofra
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Looks like Rwanda is providing a model for problem-solving collaboration between universities and centers like yours - a trend we hope to see continue!

Photo of Allan B Goldstein
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Joseph,
Forgive me for eavesdropping. Might you know of Rwanda universities that might be interested in
"People with disabilities team up with university students to create person-centered digital stories?"
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/disability-inclusion/review/people-with-disabilities-team-up-with-university-students-to-create-person-centered-digital-stories
We have been successful with this program for the past five years here in Brooklyn, N.Y. at the NYU-Tandon School of Engineering. Engineering students and others become comfortable working with PWDs, learning that all people want the same thing--work and love. The course has been featured in Bing Wang's recently released The Ability Exchange (www.theabilityexchange.com/).
Any thoughts?
Thanks, Allan

Photo of Joseph MUNYANDAMUTSA
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Thank you Allan! yes, the university of Rwanda, College of medicine and health sciences might be interested. I am involved in teaching future rehabilitation professionals a disability-related module (Community based rehabilitation) and I think bringing in your creative idea would be much appreciated. please go through this link http://www.cmhs.ur.ac.rw/home/ and let me know if I can link you with the college.
regards
Joseph

Photo of Allan B Goldstein
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Hi Joseph.
Thank you for your quick reply. I think the College of Medicine and Health Sciences could be a terrific partner. Something we've noticed here in NYC is that many med students have little experience speaking with PWDs. And perhaps you know that too many medical people here in the US do not consider a disabled life as a life worth living, hence the Not Dead Yet disability rights group. http://notdeadyet.org/assisted-suicide-talking-points. Presently, NYU has people with CP visiting first year med students at a local hospital. Engaging future Rwandan docs with PWDs is an excellent match. Thank you for offering to link me to the College. As an aside, my colleague who teaches "Developing Assistive Technology" is based in our OT school.
Best,
Allan

Photo of Joseph MUNYANDAMUTSA
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Thank you Allan. I am involved in teaching the disability/inclusion-related module (CBR) at the university of Rwanda, for Physiotherapy students and students from the special needs education. You are right they all need to be engaged in inclusion beginning from the school. I am involved in development od OT education program at the college as well and really interested to link you with the college management. you can e mail me at cechefoundation@gmail.com for more networking details.
Regards
Joseph

Photo of Allan B Goldstein
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Will do, and thank you Joseph.
As an aside, our OT dept. is working closely with us on assistive technology. The "Developing Assistive Tech" grad course was created by and is taught by an OT professor.--allan

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I'm a huge proponent of play-as-learning, and I think that it is a basic concept that affects all people from all walks of life. I love the idea of not only creating spaces for play but also making them inclusive for *all*. Not separating the special needs play structures from others sends a strong, clear message that we are all people and we can all enjoy the same things! On a personal note, growing up in the United States one of the elementary schools in my town had the absolute raddest playground. Whenever we kids wanted to go play somewhere "after hours" (as it were) we wanted to go to that extra-special playground. Well, that playground was designed specifically with special needs children in mind as a way to create intersectional play between them and the other students. It obviously worked great, as I'm sure you're project will!

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Hannah, we appreciate your input and would like to know more about this favorite childhood playground. Does it still exist? How can we learn more about it? Sounds like just the kind of model we could learn from!

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They've since rebuilt it (elementary school was a long time ago for me, after all). The new design is also meant to be inclusive, you can see a mock-up here: http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/croppedphotos/2016/09/14/120-85348-2D0000_copy_JS_RyanGrayHillcrest_08312015-lead_t640.jpg?a6ea3ebd4438a44b86d2e9c39ecf7613005fe067

Photo of Isaac Jumba
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Hi Friends of Mmofra , this is such a great idea! During my free time I run an organization that makes it fun and easy for people to do social good (www.chaguacharity.org) and part of our activities involved working with institutions that support children with special needs and children homes. It is true that the current product designs for spaces for playing, furniture and other tools of usage are the begining point for seclusion, bias and premade judgements when it comes to interacting with PWDs. You are special because you are tackling this challenge early on by focussing on designing for inclusion for kids, thereby reducing the stigma experienced later on in life. This can even go beyond when designing homes, shopping centres, workplace and all that.

Will be great to keep us in the loop and I hope to see the idea scale. Goodluck!

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Isaac, thanks for checking in here and making us aware of your work, represented by the many fertile contributions you have made on this platform. We would certainly like to stay connected and to look for areas of mutual support!

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Hello, I’m Kaleb Swenson and I am the one responsible for creating the SPARK PSA and the SPARK infographic. I am currently a senior at University High School and I am in many classes based on Video production and Graphic arts/design. I believe that I am fairly advanced for someone my age, 17, and still in school. I am the current president of Viable Vision, our schools Video media production club. We are in charge of a few things, such as the Titan News Network(TNN), This Week In High School Sports(TWIHSS), and Video Yearbook are the main few. TNN is an informative news show that we, Viable Vision, put out every wednesday for the school to watch and learn about what's going on in and around our school. TWIHSS is a short sports segment that we send to Fox News to air at 10:35 p.m. on thursdays. The third is Video Yearbook or VYB. It is a 30 minute long video that is like your normal yearbook except there are moving images instead of pictures. Within my time here I have Produced, edited, filmed, and directed quite a few productions throughout my years here in Viable Vision. The reason why I created the SPARK PSA was due to a language arts class called 21st Century Literacy. Within this class we have had to tell many stories and have been given the opportunity to use whichever median that we feel most comfortable with. My medians were obviously Video production and Graphic arts. The first unit that we worked on was “current controversies”. This was when I created the PSA. The reasoning was that the word for this amazing program needed to be put out and there was truly no better time to do so than during that project. I thought that this program was a chance for many kids to get involved in a way that could be nice and “helpful” not just to others but to themselves as well, instead of just doing something to do something why not do something to see something great come from it. Just the shear outreach that this program has to build and strengthen bonds within such an amazing environment and community was amazing to me, and it was my belief that it needed to be shared. There was a sense of greatness that could only come from an opportunity given the way that the SPARK program gives. Being able to have that integration with dignity is something that I believe that everyone needs to take part of at least once in their life and what better time than the present. I believe that this project can further create that integration, and make it a day to day ability of allowing others specifically the younger ones to be able to have fun in a nice environment and atmosphere. I do hope believe that this project can do amazing things and help build a larger bond within us at the base level of being human together, despite any difference.

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Kaleb, we value having a representative of your age group on our team, especially because you have used your skills to represent people with disabilities and some of the projects that include them. Can you tell us how you've learned to document this community with dignity?

Photo of Kaleb
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Sorry for the delay in response, my life is currently a bit hectic with everything I have going on. But I have a very straight forward answer to your question. There was little to no learning needed. I have respect for most people until that respect is lost and with that respect comes the fact that we are ALL human no matter what "inconveniences" we have mentally or physically, and I truly believe that we as a human race NEED to treat everyone with respect and equality. Without those things society will crumble. I personally believe that there needs to be more happiness and equality in our world.

Photo of Estelle Martinson
Team

What a great and inspiring idea - the joy in the photos are quite apparent.  Well done.

Photo of Friends of Mmofra
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Thanks Estelle, we notice that you have posted some great ideas in this challenge! do you know if the Joburg Parks system has anything like outdoor inclusive design?

Photo of Estelle Martinson
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Friends of Mmofra Not that I'm aware of, but I think they could be interested to explore that, I'd be very happy to find out for you, if you wish.  Could you clarify what exactly you would want to know?  Just a contact person to get in touch with?

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Estelle, we have followed Joburg Parks on social media just as part of our interest in parks in African cities. Linking up with them just to share experiences would be a good idea for our partners Mmofra Foundation. Let us know if you have a connection? Thanks!

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Photo of walter
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Great work and blessed all of you

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Walter, we appreciate your comment. Your idea for sign-language support inspires us to work towards a similar goal in our partner's children's park in Ghana, where sign-language tours would be of great benefit.

Photo of walter
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Great to hear that, I think its a way to give them chance to be inclusive in the public sector to have the people know the sign language to assist PWDs during their visit in those office.

Photo of carole null
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I admire the great work you are on especially in Africa where play is underrated in the development of disabled children. You are allowing self expression and discovery in the most powerful way and this gives the little ones joy and dignity. Nice!

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Carole, thank you for looking in. We have read your ideas with interest, and your focus on albinism is really important work. We sat up at this quot from your comment: "...in Africa...play is underrated in the development of disabled children". Observations like these from practitioners in Africa are begin to provide key evidence of an issue that seems to impact all children and not just the disabled - do parents, caregivers and teachers recognize the importance of play in child development? Our partners Mmofra Foundation have done some research which suggests that play is indeed underrated across the board. Your further thoughts are welcome!

Photo of Rachel Phillips
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Firstly, thank you so much for the work that you are doing in partnership with Mmofra Foundation! We hear so little about joyful social interventions in the context of disability, and I am really excited to continue participating in the evolution of this public space project.

You sparked my curiosity with question (4): How do we ensure that children with disabilities get their turn on structures that are fun for all?

You have already implemented one solution with great success: scheduling private park time for groups like the Cerebral Palsy support group.
However, I think it is critical to ensure integrated play opportunities, where children with disabilities and their caregivers spend quality time engaging with the broader community. People with disabilities are so often invisible in the dialogue around the use of public space, and I hope we can see a shift in that trend with projects like this one!

Would you consider training park docents/program staff/volunteers on facilitating play for children with mobility issues on days when the park space is open to the public?

Also, are you considering developing dedicated space for physical therapy, accessible to caregivers and children at any time?

Looking forward to continuing the conversation!

Photo of Friends of Mmofra
Team

Rachel - great points raised:
-- "People with disabilities are so often invisible in the dialogue around the use of public space": ShareCare Ghana and other support groups will be involved in the design process. We are in touch with at least two extraordinary disability advocates who are ready to bring their community along. This is also an opportunity to document public response to disability centered design.
-- "Would you consider training park docents/program staff/volunteers on facilitating play for children with mobility issues on days when the park space is open to the public?": Yes, our partners recognize that there is a real need to foster attitude changes alongside this idea.

Photo of jennifer compau
Team

Rachel,
Great questions... 
Modeling inclusion, rhythm of inclusion in play and balanced access can be partially accomplished thru training park of park and community ambassadors/teachers to themselves be mindful and develop comfort with everyone that comes into the park to play. It helps shape the environment literally and emotionally. This is key. The broader implication is that what is practiced successfully there in the 'laboratory of play' at the park can easily be translated to the greater communities that the park goers come from--schools, marketplaces, businesses... helping communities see it is possible to grow their inclusion intentionally, to greater empathize, to include and to empower.
The other key is to design "open" and engaging  play equipment.  Engaging to mulit players simultaneously, where one or more children could access and play at the same time.
Imagine  something akin to the helm of a boat, with a steering wheel on one side and a co-captains spot next to it.. each play and play therapy spot to be designed to accommodate a child that needs supports to stand, benefit from the standing therapy and engage... imagine towards the aft of the boat spots for children to weighing the anchor or cast a fishing pole...   

Photo of Valentina Garcia-Loste
Team

Thank you for doing the beautiful, courageous, and impactful work that you do, Friends of Mmofra!

Photo of Emmet Morris
Team

I really love the idea of creating a setting and environment that includes both able and disable people. It's truly inspiring and interesting to think about.

As someone who has not spent any time before thinking about the requirements that such things might need, I don't necessarily have many thoughts on what the final product might look like. I do however think about identifying requirements as part of my professional life daily. I think that it might be very helpful to list as many of the specific requirements, both functional and elective, that bear on the outcome for the final design.

Some additional design questions that might be helpful to know the answers to:
Is this meant to be deployed in a single location in Ghana only, or in multiple locations?
Given the way that the local environment breaks down most materials, what is the desired longevity of the final product? 1yr, 3yrs, etc.?
Does the material choice need to be an abundant local material or can it be sourced globally?
What are the budgetary constraints for a completed product?
What level of production is expected to be achieved for the final product? Meaning, will we always build it manually onsite, or is it ever expected to achieve some or any economies of scale?
What are the safety parameters for the product?
What level of ability is the user expected to have on their own to be able to use the device? Should they be able to access/use it without assistance, or is it expected that they will have a caregiver help them to get set up and use the product?
Given weather, environment and insects as common issues for product longevity, can these be addressed separately? Can we find materials that have inherent anti-bacterial/microbial properties? Are there ways to mitigate weather conditions that blend with the environment and are also functional and aesthetically pleasing?

I offer these additional questions and hope they might be useful in taking the design process in useful directions.

Thanks,
Emmet

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Team

Emmet, your comprehensive and detailed design questions will be great for us to wrestle with in the feedback stage of this challenge. Here are some fast responses:
-- desired longevity of the final product? A: We'd go for 3yrs in the trial stage
-- abundant local material or can it be sourced globally? A: prioritize the former; be open to the latter especially for specific assistive elements
-- will we always build it manually onsite A: the prototyping and testing process can take place at the Mmofra Place maker space, which is important for collecting data and working out glitches, but we anticipate that this is a place-led rather than a place-based effort.
-- What are the safety parameters for the product? A: thanks for raising this; it is one of our unanswered issues and we are going to need to research in-country regulations if any exist and/or are enforced.
--level of ability is the user expected to have on their own? A: another major design consideration. From our pilot last year, it looks like some assistance will most often be needed. The ShareCare cerbral palsy support group will be participating in the design process so we should get some good input from them. More on this as we progress!

Photo of jennifer compau
Team

Great feedback Emmet,
Thank you for your thoughtful comments and exploring the benefits of inclusive design.
Among the many design consideration questions that you posed, the one about what level of ability the user might be expected to have own their own is the first one I would like to address.
Our intension, this time, would be to prototype a structure that is accessible for children 2 years old to 12 years old. This is because the the positive impact physical therapy and play therapy has on the developing frame of a child that can directly impact their stability and mobility for their life. For this reason we intend to create a structure where they can do their 'standing therapy' engaged in playful distraction. We envision a play/therapy structure that can have support straps for children that can not stabalize and stand unassisted, that will provide the therapy that will benefit their development. The structure can also be used and play engaged unfastened for children that can stand freely.
..more reflections to come... namaste, Jennifer

Photo of Kweku
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Such a wonderful prototype with lots of potential! I would suggest playing a bit more with the ergonomics of the swings, especially the curved edges and how exactly they are to respond to the human body. Perhaps, it would be better to have multiple swings at different scales, which would fit both small children and bigger users. This, i believe would ensure that bigger, stronger folks do not monopolize use of this popular feature. and discourage younger kids from interacting with the swings. Also, i would suggest adding a rubber-like surface to better cushion users as the use the swing.

In terms of materials, I very much appreciate the use of local and re-purposed materials. Have you though of using bamboo, which is indigenous to Ghana and has a fast-growing capacity. It also has great structural strength, comparable to mild steel and concrete, in addition to having a "bendable quality." A variety of treatments can be used to preserve the material from adverse environmental conditions. The safest and "greenest," especially since it would require such close contact to human skin is a "lime wash, which fuses water and quick lime. This treatment offers an array of benefits, from discouraging termite presence, is anti-fungal, insect repellent, fire-retardant, adapts to weather changes and good thermal/sound insulation.

Good luck!

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Team

Kweku, these are really useful comments! The bamboo and protective limewash suggestions could be the answer to some of our unsolved issues, and might work for other structurs as well - thanks!

Photo of Amowi Phillips
Team

Hi Kweku! I agree that bamboo is a material we could be experimenting with much more, given its flexibility and other properties. Sharing the URL for your recent excellent article on Architizer about the Mmofra Place "maker" park: <https://architizer.com/blog/playtime-in-africa-mmofra-foundation-ghana/>

Photo of jennifer compau
Team

Thank you Kweku for your thoughtful comments. As an art teacher I am interested in the possibilities of everything being a an art supply...especially things easily, inexpensively available.
Your idea of the greenest and safest covering or coating to the "frame" of the play equipment, being a 'lime wash treatment' intrigues me. I would like to explore thinking about this coating as something akin to a thin fresco...something that pigment could be applied to when the surface is still curing or drying giving it a beautiful and playful surface that is attractive to all. This "wash" would be a great lasting solution to the short life of acrylic/latex paint...which, as you know disappears with a season.
Have you ever coated rammed earth with a 'lime wash"? we have a experimental rammed earth architect that is 'playing' on site at Mmofra Place and we could give it a test to see how it weathers.
Thanks again.
Namaste.

Photo of Kara
Team

What a wonderful idea, Jennifer Compau. I absolutely love this idea and know how much our students would benefit from this. Inclusion is such a powerful, wonderful concept. It is what is right. It is what is best for ALL kids. What you do for the Art SPARK program at our school, U-High, is unbelievable! You are doing such a wonderful job of promoting social and academic inclusion. It is so important that ALL students be granted equal opportunities and be included with their peers to the maximum extent possible. In addition to Jennifer's implementation of the Art SPARK program, we also have a program called UNIFED sports, which supports social inclusion through sport. Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, which makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away. All schools, everywhere should implement this amazing program. What it has done for out student body has been amazing. Jennifer Compau has supported this program and even donated her time and money to help send us to the state tournament. She even spent her own money to come join us four hours away and support our teams!

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Kara, we appreciate your evidence-based input showing that inclusive sports and art programs can benefit all kids - we've read some similar sports ideas posted in this challenge. Just on the level of normalizing day-to-day empathy, we've also seen students in other School Districts wheel their friends around and support them in many ways - a credit to policies and practice over a period of time! Of course the assistive technologies that we have make the difference in being able to travel to school at all. Many parts of the world sadly don't yet have the means.

Photo of jennifer compau
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Dear Kara and UNIFIED team, Thank you for the wonderful work you do to create vitality in the community and school culture. Your work of inclusion with dignity is inspiring!

Photo of Steven Revelian
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Hello.I think your idea is good.However,my doubt is that,most of the people with disabilities come from poor families.Most of them are even not sure of their meal.How can one enjoy playing if she/he has not eaten?

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Steven, thank you for your important question which brings up some basic issues about needs, priorities and the importance of play. Would you say food insecurity, actual hunger and extreme poverty would impact many of the ideas in this challenge?

Photo of Steven Revelian
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Definetely,for me no way, persons with disabilities can be empowered without economic empowerment.If they are economically empowered,all the other needs can be met on their own.

Photo of jennifer compau
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Dear Steven,
I think your belief is critically important and I see it entwined with the cultural aspect of empowerment, how children experience their world and feel included or feel excluded. I feel the economic lens is very important to designing with access for everyone in mind. Part of the reason FoMm believes so heavily in repurposing otherwise discarded material is to illustrate creative and virtually free solutions to problems. Thank you for your valuable comments and consideration.

Photo of Alison Barrett
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As a Mom of a special needs child, who spent MANY days in various therapies, this is a much needed and beautiful idea! The distractions, whether it's a swing, a special stand, or an animal, help alleviate some tears that come with the hard, and sometimes painful, work these kids do during therapy sessions. God bless you all!!

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Alison, we really value feedback like this from the caregivers who are in the trenches with their loved special needs person! Were any of the therapies you are familiar with done (or doable) outdoors?

Photo of jennifer compau
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Dear Alison,
By design, our first experience at ShareCare and Mmofra Place in Ghana was first to connect with the children thru art, to inspire joy both onsite where they traditionally do therapy and then in the Park, adding the collaborative power of nature to the equation. Secondly, the experience was also intentionally extended to the caregivers and therapists and volunteers and mothers... to rejuvenate their spirits, support them too, inspire them too.. As you know, the ones that love and care for our children with disabilities deplete their resources daily...It surely created a wonderful elevating experience for all.
Thank you for your response!

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Jennifer, it is this fertilization across fields that you describe and do so well! Some great phrases to keep front and center in the design process here:
"extension to caregivers, therapists, mothers & volunteers";
"rejuvenation ...of resources that are depleted daily";
"elevated experience".

Photo of Heather Sparks
Team

Beautiful idea and prototype! I appreciate the use of local and repurposed materials--you can build these swings quickly!

Photo of Friends of Mmofra
Team

Heather, thanks for your comment. Yes empty cable reels and shipping pallets are pretty easy to come by. We needed to strengthen the frame to make it universally usable, so it sits in a tube steel form. We worked with great local carpenters who now have the process down and are ready to improve.