Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being given their own park area to allow them to play in peace and safety.
Priority access, two hours a day
From Monday 3 August until further notice, for two hours every morning between 10am and 12 noon, they will have priority access to the following areas:
- the scented garden in St Ann’s Well Gardens
- the Secret Garden in East Hill Park
- the ball court area in East Brighton Park (off Wilson Avenue)
We hope people take notice of the signs
Although other park users will be able to access the areas, it is hoped people will take notice of the signage now up and allow the children and young people with SEND and their families to enjoy the spaces uninterrupted.
The Parent Carers' Council (PaCC) is a forum for parent carers of children with additional needs who work to help improve services and support.
Amaze is a charity that gives information, advice and support to families of children and young people with SEND in the city and throughout Sussex.
Councillor Amy Heley, joint chair of the council’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability committee, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been working with Amaze and PaCC to identify these three parks and the areas that can be used for SEND children and young people and their families.
"There are people who use these areas, including fitness instructors, but the hope is they can find another part of the park to carry out their sessions."
'Often difficult for SEND youngsters to play safely'
Councillor Healy added: “We very much hope people will realise why we’re doing this and give the families exclusive access to the areas. So often it’s really difficult for SEND children to play safely and uninterrupted by other park users.
“But now, for two hours a day, they will be able to enjoy freedom, fun and relaxation together as a group.”
Fiona England, chair of the PaCC, said: “Many children and young people with SEND have had less access to outdoors spaces during lockdown than other families because their health and other additional needs mean they can’t safely go to their usual, local parks and social distancing is sometimes a challenge.
'“We really welcome the council’s support and leadership on setting up these exclusive areas in these parks and we hope that many SEND families will feel more able to come outside and play safely with their children over the summer holidays.”
SEND children can find social distancing challenging
Amaze chief executive Rachel Travers added: "SEND families have been under so much pressure during Covid, it’s great they can now access these areas to enjoy outdoor space, which many don’t have at home, in the knowledge their children and young people are safe.
"Many SEND children find it a challenge understanding and adhering to social distancing rules. They will feel reassured by this being communicated and understood by those around them thanks to the signs displayed in the parks."