A Playground for Everyone

Three children sit on a carousel together. One child is seated on a bench while two use wheelchairs. Adults are taking pictures and filming.
  • The Accomplishment

  • What Worked

  • About the Author


There are more than 600 children with disabilities in Gyumri, Armenia, and most of them are isolated in their homes. We believe that inclusion should start from an early age, when children with and without disabilities attend the same school and play in the same places. In our community, all spaces and structures set up for children’s play are not accessible to children with disabilities.

Thanks to my profession I have the chance to travel around the world and each trip has its positive influence on our future projects. In 2014 I went on a U.S. Department of State “Sports for Success” exchange program hosted by Mobility International USA. On the trip I had an opportunity to visit an accessible playground, Harper’s Playground, in Portland, Oregon, USA. After that my dream was to have a similar place in my hometown. But when I talked to the founder’s of Harper’s Playground I found out that they invested much more money than the grant amount we received. So we developed a wonderful strategy to realize our ambition: mobilizing local authorities, businesses, and community members around the initiative.

The Project

Thanks to generous support of UNWG in 2014-2015, “Agate” NGO implemented the “Playground for Everyone” project and built an inclusive playground in Gyumri. Our project was designed to promote social integration of children with different types of disabilities: physical, visual, hearing, and intellectual. The playground is the first of it’s type in Gyumri and was made according to Universal Design standards, which is that the playground was made not only for children with disabilities, but it’s a space where all the equipment works for everyone. 

The playground was placed in Noravan district and it is the only playground in that area. Children were so happy that they couldn’t wait until the reconstruction of the area was fully finished. The playground was built upon a smooth surface and it has ramps, which allow children using mobility devices to access the play towers and slides. There are different types of swings including a swing for children using wheelchairs. Also, there are boards with braille and sign language alphabets.

Thanks to joint efforts, the official opening ceremony of the playground was organized on July 14th, 2015. There were more than 200 people participating in the event including: the Gyumri Mayor, the Deputy Governor of Shirak Region, representatives from the municipality and Shirak Marzpetaran, the Head of the Children’s Rights Protection Department, community members, children with and without disabilities, and mass media.

 “It was a great satisfaction to see the joy in the eyes of children with disabilities when they realized that they can have fun on the playground together with their friends without disabilities.”

It was obvious that children don’t reject any differences in the abilities of their friends. On the contrary, they tried to support each other and play together. The playground has become one of the most favorite places of the children not only from the district, but from other parts of the city. The playground has brought many benefits such as the parents of the children now have the chance to interact with each other, while their children enjoy playing. Also, the local authorities are planning to build a football playing space next to the playground.