27 February 2017   

10 min read
Stockland continues to create spaces that shape our communities and encourage inclusion with the recent opening at Stockland Shellharbour of a new inclusive playground for children of all abilities and two quiet rooms specially designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Photos from the Stockland Shellharbour inclusive playground launch

The playground – located in The Avenue, the centre’s new $5 million outdoor dining area was designed in collaboration with Stockland’s CARE Foundation partner, the Touched By Olivia Foundation, which specialises in the design and development of playgrounds that enable children of all ages and abilities to play side by side.

Stockland Regional Development Manager Justin Travlos said the new playground was an example of the work of the Stockland CARE Foundation to support community health and wellbeing. “Stockland launched the CARE foundation to deliver infrastructure and initiatives that promote a sense of belonging and connection in our community. Since 2013, our partnership with Touched By Olivia has supported the development of seven inclusive playgrounds with five more due for delivery this year.

“The new playground delivers a play space with innovative design allowing children of all abilities to play together. We know this exciting new play space within The Avenue will become a favourite destination for our customers and the community.”

The Avenue includes three new casual dining destinations – Lone Star Rib House, Thai restaurant Chong Co, and Grill’d Healthy Burgers – that offer customers and retailers greater opportunity for night-time dining, and complement The Avenue’s current cafés and restaurants, which include The Coffee Club, Guzman and Gomez, Max Brenner, Sushi Bay, Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar and Cold Rock Ice Creamery. 

Touched by Olivia Executive Officer Bec Ho said: “Our playgrounds acknowledge disability by providing easy access and fun, stimulating play areas, but they are really about celebrating the ability all children, parents and grandparents share in playing and having fun. We’re hoping that if children can start on a level playing field, playgrounds like this will lead to creating a community that is more inclusive.” 

With one in five Australians living with a disability, creating inclusive play spaces is an important way to ensure all children can socialise together and enjoy healthy and active lives. The playground has an under the sea theme and includes a wheelchair accessible carousel and sensory and tactile play spaces to allow all children to play together, including those with physical disabilities, vision, hearing and mobility impairments, or spectrum disorders such as autism. 

Complementing the inclusive play space, Stockland has also opened two quiet rooms that provide a calming and low sensory environment for parents, carers and children with ASD to retreat to when shopping becomes overwhelming. 

Designed in consultation with local mother Sharleen Truer who has experienced challenges shopping with her sons, the rooms feature heat sensitive play screens, tactile wall panels, sensory wall coverings, bean bags and dimmable sparkle lights. 

The quiet rooms have been well-received by customers. One said, “Well done Stockland, now parents that have children with ASD will have somewhere to go to calm back down when the atmosphere of a busy place gets too much.” 

With 8 million customers visiting Stockland Shellharbour every year, these rooms are a small but significant initiative to ensure our shopping centres are more inclusive and enjoyable for everyone.