Camphill School Aberdeen’s vision for inclusive outdoor play

June 27, 2024

By Alex Busch, Executive Director at Camphill School Aberdeen


For many, going to a local playpark to have fun and meet friends is part and parcel of childhood. Yet for children and young people with sensory disorders, this simple pleasure is not always possible.


Visiting public playgrounds can often be a stressful experience for them and their families. A recent survey of Camphill School Aberdeen parents found that 78% of parents of children with sensory disorders do not access public parks because of judgement from others, sensory concerns, and challenging behaviours. We need to change this.


Camphill School Aberdeen recently launched a campaign to raise funds to build a free, publicly available outdoor sensory adventure and learning playground. It will provide a safe space for young people with sensory disorders to exercise their right to play. The playground, which has been endorsed by the National Autistic Society, was designed in collaboration with our young people to ensure it meets the needs of those who will use the fantastic facility when it opens. It will be located at our Camphill Estate in Milltimber and open to the public using a booking system.


The playground, the first of its kind in Aberdeen, has been designed to reduce sensory overload and engage sensory experiences. Rudolf Steiner, who inspired the teachings of the early Camphill movement, was the first to suggest that there are 12 senses, as opposed to the commonly referenced five. Our new playpark will engage as many of these 12 senses as possible. This includes sound, touch, smell, balance, and movement.


Sensory play, which is any activity that stimulates at least one of the senses, is vital for childhood development. This means that often young people with sensory disorders are missing out on important learning and wellbeing opportunities. Our playground will provide them with outdoor learning, access to the therapeutic benefits of nature, and access to sensory activities that they may otherwise miss out on.


The design of the playground is spread across three ‘zones’ - sensory and creative, communication and team building, and adventure and confidence. The zones will include various activities and specialised equipment to challenge and stimulate children’s physical and mental capabilities. For example, balance beams will help the development of gross motor skills, coordination and spatial awareness. Similarly, fine motor skills will be enhanced through interactive elements such as the sandpit and finger maze. Sensory and outdoor play also have huge emotional benefits. Natural settings can reduce stress and enhance emotional wellbeing due to the calming environment they provide.


We are delighted to be able to bring this important project to Aberdeen, but we still need support to help make our vision a reality. To find out more or to donate to Camphill School Aberdeen’s playground project here.

Back to all news