Four accessible activities in Islington parks

  • 25
  • Sep

A guide to making the most of Islington parks if you have a disability

There are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, equivalent to approximately 21 percent of the population. Friday 3 December is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an annual awareness day that aims to promote the rights and wellbeing of people with disabilities.

To mark the occasion, we’ve rounded up a few ways in which people with disabilities can get involved in activities in their local parks:

Health and history walks at Caledonian Park
Many of the regular guided walks taking place in Islington’s parks are wheelchair accessible and suitable for those who have difficulties walking for extended periods of time or at a fast pace.

In Caledonian Park, staff host a variety of events including health and history walks. These are a great opportunity to learn about 400 years of local history, while exploring nature at a gentle pace. The regular tour around the park takes one hour and is – like almost all walks at Caledonian Park – fully wheelchair accessible. Check out the upcoming walks at Caledonian Park on Eventbrite.

Dementia and family-friendly walks at Gillespie Park
Staff at Gillespie Park run a monthly dementia and family-friendly walk. This slow walk around the park allows you to explore Islington’s largest nature reserve, its plants and history. The walk takes between 45 minutes to an hour, but can be adapted to participants’ needs. Be sure to stick around afterwards for free tea and coffee at the Ecology Centre.

This walk is wheelchair accessible and ideal for people with visual impairments or sensory processing disorders such as autism. Your guide will encourage you to stop to touch and smell some of the plants, and to listen to birds and squirrels. There’s no need to book – just turn up at the Ecology Centre on the first Friday of any given month at 10am.

Sensory gardens
Sensory gardens are gardens which intentionally include plants and other features that strongly stimulate all five senses. They are relaxing, therapeutic environments – particularly for people with mental illnesses, visual impairments, dementia, or developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities, but are highly enjoyable for anyone.

You can find sensory and herb gardens in Caledonian Park, Barnard Park playground and King Square Gardens. Enjoy the relaxing scent of lavender and the soft, fuzzy texture of sage. In summer, take a walk through the various long grass areas at Gillespie Park, Highbury Fields, and Caledonian Park – see how many different types of bird you can spot.

Accessible outdoor playgrounds
If you care for a child with a disability, pay a visit to one of Islington’s accessible outdoor playground facilities. Many local parks have basket swings that are shallower than traditional bucket swings, so children can get in and out more easily. There are also flush roundabouts which have enough room for wheelchairs or power assisted chairs.

Find accessible playground equipment near you and visit Islington Council’s website to find out more about the opening and closing times of each park.

Above image: A Mencap walk for people with learning disabilities on Highbury Fields

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