Short film about playground bullying: watch, weep and be grateful for Seattle’s inclusive play spaces
Excuse me while I find the box of tissues. This film about playground inclusion is so beautiful it brought me to tears. “Ian,” an animated short inspired by a real-life boy with a disability, has won international acclaim for its simple and honest, yet incredibly poignant message about making play accessible to all children.
Play? Accessible? Don’t all children universally enjoy playtime?
Growing up, I remember playground drama involving a heated game of “hot lava” or waiting in line for the best swing. How trivial. The boy in this film faces embarrassment and bullying because he’s physically unable to swing from the monkey bars or join friends in a game of tag. It’s heartbreaking. Not because of his disability, but because the social suffering seems so unnecessary. All kids want to play. Shouldn’t we be making sure all kids have that opportunity?
While “Ian” is an important reminder about inclusion, the film left me feeling fortunate to be part of a community that welcomes and embraces differences – on the playground and beyond. There are dozens of places in Seattle that provide children of all abilities the chance to play, explore and make friends. If you haven’t yet taken your family to one of these inclusive play spaces, go.
Seattle Children’s PlayGarden: It’s a beautiful, completely accessible playground in the Mount Baker area. Expert staff are onsite twice a week to lead children in special activities and offer support as needed. And on select Saturday mornings, there’s an amazing art program where kids can create and craft.
Artists at Play This playground at Seattle Center has, among many cool features, a fully accessible carousel so kids can play side-by-side.
Inspiration Playground: This downtown Bellevue playground lets kids of all abilities explore and play at their own pace. Activities support kids’ physical, educational and social development and take into consideration sight, sound, scent and touch.
Pacific Science Center’s Exploration for All: On third Saturday mornings, this downtown museum is reserved for families affected by autism disorder. Kids can explore the exhibits in a sensory-friendly environment. Plus, PacSci’s exhibits are ADA accessible, and you can borrow wheelchairs if needed.
Kids Quest Museum’s Low Sensory Evenings: On select Wednesday evenings, kids with special needs can explore this Eastside museum with reduced noise, light and crowds. Admission is free.
Seattle Children’s Theatre: Every play in the SCT season has a series of accessible performances: Sensory Friendly Performances, American Sign Language Interpreted Performances, and Audio Described Performances. There's also such a show in the current Seattle run of "The Lion King."
Here are more places to find inclusive play around Seattle.
So, watch the film with your kiddos. And encourage them to go out, play and make the world a more inclusive place.
Jennifer Mortensen is a mother of two and is the calendar editor for Seattle's Child. See also: Tips for a full day out of the house in Seattle with little kids.