An Inclusive Playground in Moscow. Success Story
25 November 2019
Comparing with more than two hundred facilities created in Russia by Naked Heart Foundation, a sports and play complex, which appeared with the support of the Coca-Cola Company at the Moscow school No. 1582, became a special one.
«My children study in France, and there is no such sports complex at their school,» Natalia Vodianova, the founder of Naked Heart Foundation, said at the official opening ceremony. «I hope that residents will be in need of it, and children with developmental disabilities will visit this place. May our project help children play together, do sports, make friends and have fun indeed, regardless of mental or physical disabilities.»
Since 2004, Naked Heart Foundation has been creating inclusive play parks throughout the country, from Kaliningrad to Sovetskaya Gavan, first of all, in the places where no one but us can create an inclusive facility. We regularly cooperate with local authorities and organisations based on co-financing and joint participation in the development and implementation of the project.
However, our complex in the Chertanovo Tsentralnoye District of Moscow is unique because our idea of inclusion and development of barrier-free environment united several interested parties at once. Participants of the project showed unanimity, so that, through joint efforts, we managed to create a complex which is unique in many aspects. Victory at a city improvement competition is the best confirmation of that.
Since 2016, with the support of Coca-Cola HBC Russia, Naked Heart Foundation has been creating inclusive play parks in the cities which hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Each park is well located and equipped with a ramp for people using wheelchairs, play items for children with impaired coordination and muscle-skeleton disabilities, and information stands for visually impaired. The parks, created in cooperation with Coca-Cola HBC Russia, feature safety flooring football fields or workout grounds to help city residents lead a healthy lifestyle. Moscow, the main city of the football festival, should have its own park as well.
«We have chosen building No. 7 of school No. 1582 at the Chertanovo Tsentralnoye district because more than 150 children with special needs study there. In addition, in summer 2019, it was planned to renovate the football field at this school», Oxana Medvedeva, Programme Director of Naked Heart Foundation, said. «Chertanovo is a place with long-standing football traditions. It even has its own professional football team.»
Sergei Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow, instructed to renovate the school stadium built in 2006, after his meeting with residents of the district. At first, the district authorities and the school administration planned to make only a new cover of the football field and improve a surrounding territory under the city programme. Cooperation with Naked Heart Foundation allowed to expand the idea significantly. Nevertheless, Vladimir Mikheev, Head of the Chertanovo Tsentralnoye district administration, didn’t approve it at once. «We were cautious about the idea of arrangement of an inclusive play complex, even taking into account the fact that there are many students who need it. The point is that there has been an accident at a similar playground in another district of our Southern Administrative Okrug recently. However, seeing the quality of the equipment offered by Naked Heart Foundation, we were convinced that it ensures maximum safety,» Mr. Mikheev explained.
During the negotiations, the draft of the project was changed several times at the initiative of each party.
«We followed two requirements, namely, to make a playground comfortable both for our students and residents and we could maintain it. Therefore, we asked to make changes three times and accepted only the fourth variant,» said Olga Maltseva, Head of the Chertanovo Tsentralnoye municipal district and head of building No. 7 at school No. 1582. «For example, we refused from an interactive board because only small groups of children would be able to work with it, and we wanted all the items to be available for mass activities.»
But the final configuration was the most appropriate. In addition to the old stadium, the horizontal bars installed in the 80s were dismantled. Instead, the school got a new football field with artificial grass and treadmills, a fenced playground for sports and an inclusive play area. A workout area replaced horizontal bars. The total work area amounted to 5,200 square metres. «There are always changes, but here we managed to implement our general idea, and it is very pleasant that the district authorities and the school administration are satisfied with the result,» Oxana Medvedeva said.
The Zhylishchnik (communal cervice) of the Chertanovo Tsentralnoye District Company prepared the territory and improved it, and the contractors of Naked Heart Foundation installed play and sports equipment. However, Olga Maltseva said that the Zhylishchnik Company specialists participated in it as well with great interest, «Many of them live in the district with their children, so that they worked for themselves!» The prefecture of the Southern Administrative Okrug provided great support as well. With its assistance, landscaping was carried out, and a school fence almost a kilometre long was completely replaced.
During the last weeks of working on the project, the Foundation specialists and representatives of the school, the city administration and Zhylishchnik took control of the progress almost every day to make the renovated school area ready for a new academic year. In August, the project was nominated for the Most Improved Education Facility at the Moscow city improvement competition, and won it.
«The area became a great gift for us. In the morning, while students study, mothers with their children come here from neighbouring houses. And in the afternoon and on Saturdays, our specialists work on the playground with children with developmental disabilities, in particular with those who have motor skills and motor activity disabilities,» Olga Maltseva continues.
At the end of summer, Alexey Chelyshev, Prefect of the Southern Administrative Okrug, accepted the ready-made facility, and in October, Natalia Vodianova and Coca-Cola representatives took part in the official opening of the sports and play complex. After the official opening ceremony, a unified game was held on the renovated football field. Amateur football players and the Special Olympics athletes with mental disabilities played together in one team. Natalia Vodianova, Member of the Special Olympics Board of Directors, started the game having kicked the ball at the very beginning.
«Being the head of the educational complex and the municipal deputy, in summer I received several complaints concerning the installation of fences and noise from construction equipment. But when people saw that we succeeded, enthusiastic reviews replaced the negative ones, and residents of the neighbouring houses wrote a letter of gratitude to the Department of Education of Moscow,» Evgenia Rybakova, Head of school No. 1582, said. «None of the new facilities is idle. Even children from neighbouring micro districts come to the playground, there is always someone in the workout area and football teams play on the field until late at night.»
However, there are still dissatisfied people. But claims of residents of the Chertanovo Tsentralnoye district are not connected with the playground itself. Now they appeal to the administration complaining that there is only one facility of this level in the district. Chertanovo residents think that it is necessary to install the same football fields, playgrounds and workout areas in all yards and parks.