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12.06.2013 - Ausgabe: 3/2013

Kinderhilfestiftung e.V. and the Corporation of Frankfurt am Main finance the Tabaluga playground.

The oldest inclusive playground in Germany is resplendent in its new incarnation.


Numerous new items of play equipment and a modernised, inclusive playground enable all the children to play together. The Tabaluga playground was created in 1996 as the first inclusive playground of its type in Germany. Since then, in an exemplary partnership, the children’s charity and the Parks and Gardens Department have constructed four large and numerous smaller inclusive playgrounds. The children's charity supported the work with 120,000 Euros, Frankfurt Corporation contributed 60,000 Euros and, as in the projects hitherto, took responsibility for the conceptual design and project management of the Fechenheim playground.

"The comprehensive redevelopment of the Fechenheim Tabaluga playground is one of the priority projects, which we are implementing on the occasion of the 30th anniversary," said Bruno Seibert, Chief Executive of the Kinderhilfestiftung e.V. Here in 1996, together with Peter Maffay, we set a new milestone for inclusive play in Frankfurt and in Germany. This was a pilot project, which we have conducted jointly with the Municipal Corporation very sustainably and successfully right up to the present day. In addition, this playground was and is a milestone for the Kinderhilfestiftung and the numerous groups who have supported us and who make our commitment possible," continued Mr. Seibert.

Peter Maffay, after whose fairy tale figure, Tabaluga, the playground was named, made it possible to finance the project in 1996 with a benefit concert. Today he sends to the Kinderhilfestiftung his good wishes for the 30th anniversary. "I am particularly pleased and thankful, that you have used the anniversary to re-design and renovate the Tabaluga playground in Frankfurt-Fechenheim, which I was able to join with you in inaugurating in April 1996. I hope that many Frankfurt children have great fun in the next few years playing together on the new play equipment."

A wheelchair seesaw, dance chimes and inclusive play area

"It is most important for children's inclusive play that play equipment is provided, which can be used both by able-bodied children and by children with mental or physical disabilities," explained Stephan Heldmann, Chief Officer of the Parks and Gardens Department in Frankfurt, referring to the newly designed inclusive play area. "For this reason lots of children ought to be able to find enough space to play together. Exactly these challenges have been met in the new wheelchair seesaw: it can be used by all the children at the same time."

As well as encouraging children to play together, the playground aims to give all children the same haptic, acoustic and visual experiences. For instance, by using their own body weight on paving slabs the children can produce sounds and act together to make melodies from the dance chimes. Many other details in the playground encourage the children to set out together on a journey of discovery.

A good third of the play equipment has been replaced. Where the sand play equipment used to be, there is now a slightly raised level, which also has barrier-free access. One of the highlights is the new wheelchair seesaw, with a lift height of 25 centimetres. This piece of play equipment differs from a conventional seesaw, in that there are no handles or seats and that there is space for up to ten children to play on it at once. The children can come on to the rocking board with their wheelchairs and rock the board by taking up different positions on the board. Another exciting idea lies behind the rotating sand lift: by cranking up the sand lift, children in the sand pit can transport sand up to an upper level, where it lands on the sand play tables. There, the children in wheelchairs can play with the sand. The children's perceptions will also be sharpened. All the children can get together to make music on the dance chimes, treading or rolling their wheelchairs on paving slabs in the ground, which will then produce notes. Other items of play equipment, such as the two metre high slide, at the top of which wheelchairs can be positioned and can then be carried down again by a lift, while the children slide down, are included.

When you compare the new play equipment with the old, it becomes obvious that the concept has moved on. "When the playground was built in 1996, we wanted to construct play equipment, which was designed in such a way that all the children could use it. This concept has altered. The seesaw does not have to swing as high as it once did; it is more important that the children can play on it together and can include the items of play equipment in role-playing, " let's pretend" games," said Alexander Goldmann, the Parks and Gardens Department Project Leader.

The aim is that by playing together children are supposed to learn how to get on with each other naturally and without bias. When the playground was built in 1996, there were, indeed, inclusive schools and nursery schools, but there was no opportunity for children to come together in their free time. This gave the children's charity the idea of building an inclusive playground. The children would grow up together and be able to learn from one another. Peter Maffay also approved of this idea. In 1996 he gave his benefit concert, the Tabaluga opera, the receipts of which formed a substantial proportion of the finance for the project. Thus, the little green dragon gave his name to the playground. Sixteen years later, after renovation, the playground remains faithful to the little dragon’s name.

About the children's charity, the Kinderhilfestiftung e.V.:
The Kinderhilfestiftung e.V.is an initiative of the citizens and businesses of the Rhine Main area and it was founded in 1982 as a registered association, with the aim of providing aid to children rapidly, without red tape and effectively, in cases where there are no other financial resources available. The Kinderhilfestiftung concentrates its aid on projects in the Rhine-Main area. Since the Kinderhilfestiftung has been set up, it has initiated or sponsored more than 400 projects. The core of their activity centres on chronically sick, mentally and physically disabled children as well as mentally ill and abused children and their families. Therefore, the integration of healthy and sick children is of particular concern for the charity.

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