UNICEF and Kazakhstan Urbanists on Designing Inclusive Playgrounds

25 February 2022
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Roman Gussak
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Roman Gussak

NUR-SULTAN, February 25, 2022 – Today, within the framework of the Republican Forum "Kazakhstan for every child. Development of an inclusive play environment”, international and Kazakhstani experts in the field of urban studies, inclusion and protection of children's rights shared their thoughts about what a play environment for children should be like.

Experts noted that in urbanized cities, children are often prone to developing health problems, the most common of which being obesity, diabetes, asthma, ADHD, depression, myopia, spinal problems, vitamin deficiency, weak immunity, etc.

Global urban governance systems, budgets and urban development plans often fail to address the individual needs of young people, children and adolescents in general, not to mention children and adolescents with disabilities. Also, municipalities are often not authorized to make key decisions on the inclusion of the rights, needs and wishes of children and adolescents in urban planning systems.

In Kazakhstan, according to a study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Urban Forum Kazakhstan and the Eurasian Cultural Alliance «Children in the City: Friendliness of Almaty to the Child», only 5% of parents believe that the existing children’s playgrounds may be of interest to a child over 10 years old. Most playgrounds are designed only for children of pre-school and early school age. Inclusive child spaces are limited.

There are only 3 inclusive playgrounds in Nur-Sultan. All of them are located in park areas, which complicates access to them by public transport for children with disabilities. The situation is the same in Almaty – only 3 inclusive playgrounds that are located in the parks. Besides the capital and Almaty, such playgrounds can only be found in Taraz and Temirtau.

“Speaking of inclusion, it is important to understand that this concept is much broader than just the conditions for teaching special children. Inclusion at all levels has become a global trend – it is becoming an integral part of the values ​​and missions of large national and transnational companies. Therefore, we believe that inclusion should become part of not only state policy, but also of business. In this case, conditions will be created everywhere for the development of an inclusive environment in various spaces: residential, educational, working, leisure, etc.,” - said Dinara Gaplan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the "Bolashak" Corporate Fund.

"An inclusive gaming environment is a new trend for Kazakhstani society. Taking into account the interests of children of different ages and physical and other characteristics has not been a priority until today. Today we began to study this and raise this issue in the development of urban studies in Kazakhstan. And our first task is to influence our fellow citizens with a word and create a call to action" - Adiya Karsybek, urbanist, project manager, member of the Association of Urbanists of Kazakhstan Q88.

As part of a joint project of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MLSP) and UNICEF, in 2021, an overview of successful experiences and good practices in play spaces in Kazakhstan was carried out. As a result, recommendations were developed to revise building norms and regulations for the construction and design of inclusive children’s playgrounds and spaces. On the basis of this work, experts are already working on developing projects of model inclusive playgrounds for different age groups of children, which the Forum participants will be able to use in their regions. A report on the results of the work with the relevant appendices will be submitted to key government bodies and institutions in the field of urban planning, play environment, child development and inclusion.

"Planning and construction of high-quality play spaces in cooperation with children is extremely important for their full development. Children's access to play spaces at an early age contributes to their greater independence and confidence in the use of public spaces, as well as forms the necessary life skills. The guarantee of the child's inalienable right to play is the key to a healthy and happy future for children and their parents," - said Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.

Within the framework of the Forum, experts talked about how the school and the school territory can facilitate free children's play, and the inclusion of different

children in the educational environment, as well as discussed example practices of the urban environmental friendliness to a child being implemented in Kazakhstan and the world.

Following the results of the Forum, the participants adopted a resolution where they proposed to consider the possibility of developing a standard regulating the quality of inclusive equipment, test methods, placements, a general design concept for inclusive play spaces, as well as a methodology for involving stakeholders, including children, and standardizing the design stages of such play spaces. The introduction of the universal design principles and participatory planning with the involvement of residents in the development of gaming spaces was also recommended.

The Forum is organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan and UNICEF in partnership with the Kazakhstan Association of Urbanists Q88 and The Graduate Business School of Narikbaev KAZGUU University.


Editors Note:

Organizers of the Republican Forum:

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan, within the framework of the work on social assistance to people with disabilities and the law "On Social Protection of Disabled People in the Republic of Kazakhstan", promotes the creation of an accessible environment for all categories of the population.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kazakhstan. Ensuring equal opportunities for children is one of the most important tasks for UNICEF both in Kazakhstan and around the world. This means protecting children's rights to survival, development and full realization of their potential in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Kazakhstan acceded in 1994. For more than two decades, UNICEF, in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, local authorities and civil society, has been working to ensure equal access to quality social services and a safe environment for children.


Kazakhstan Association of Urbanists Q88 is a young organization established in August 2021. It carries out its activities in three directions: educational activities - seminars, master classes and courses for the city governors, experts in the field of urban studies and the public interested in various areas of urban studies; development of the master plans of cities taking into account accessibility, safety and environmental standards; work on legislation - improvement of Kazakhstan legislation on urban planning, urban development and the creation of an inclusive urban environment, modernization of SNiP-s.


The Graduate Business School of Narikbaev KAZGUU University provides an International two-degree program in "Urban Studies" in partnership with the University of Business and International Studies - UBIS (Geneva, Switzerland), Swiss Montreux Business School (Montreux, Switzerland), INSA Business School (Barcelona, Spain). Within the framework of specialization, the following modules are taught: global urban development trends and strategic positioning; Infrastructure and Transport; Sustainable urban development; Design of urban public spaces.

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