Stockland Green Hills has reaffirmed its standing as a centre for the community, today celebrating the official opening of its first inclusive playground at the centre today.
Designed in collaboration with the Touched By Olivia Foundation, the playground’s innovative design allows all children to play together, including those with physical disabilities, vision, hearing and mobility impairments, or spectrum disorders such as autism.
Chris Travers, Stockland Green Hills, Centre Manager, said: “We believe it is important to remove the barriers experienced by Australians with a disability, so they can have the same access and opportunities that we do. We hope this new playground will become a favourite destination for our customers and the community where all children can let their imaginations run wild and just enjoy playing.”
Jenny Aitchison, MP, Member for Maitland joined local schools, community groups and shoppers today for a playground party to help celebrate the opening ahead of International Day of People with Disability this Sunday, 3 December.
The playground design has been inspired by the history of the Hunter River featuring a flexible forest, cubby house, vine archways and a play tunnel. It also includes sensory and tactile play spaces for discovery and learning, and casual seating for everyone to relax and enjoy.
Bec Ho, Touched by Olivia Executive Officer said: “With one in five Australians living with a disability, inclusive play spaces like this are so important for the children, the parents and the whole community.”
“Our playgrounds acknowledge disability by providing easy access and fun, stimulating play areas, but they are really about celebrating the ability of all children. We hoping that if children can start on a level playing field, playgrounds like this will lead to creating a community that is more inclusive.”
As part of this week’s third stage opening for the $414 million redevelopment the centre has also opened a dedicated Quiet Room. This space is designed to create a safe place for parents, carers and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), providing a calm, low sensory environment, which can be used as a retreat away from the busy shopping centre.
Earlier this year, Stockland also opened a new Parents Room with change tables, private feeding rooms, a microwave to warm bottles and a play area for the kids and an Adult Change room with an adjustable changing table and ceiling hoist to assist carers and people with a disability.
Local mother, Susie Lane said: “As a mother of a developmentally delayed child I thank Stockland for considering the needs of disabled children, adults and their carers when creating these new amenities.”
The new inclusive playground is located on level 1 of Stockland Green Hills, near Target and beside Harry Hartog bookshop and is the eighth for the Stockland retail portfolio.
Stockland Green Hills will open a second feature playground in the final stage in 2018 to be located in the new indoor outdoor dining precinct to be named The Courtyard.