“We want to enjoy playing different games. We make lots of friends in the park and would like to play with them”, says Ajay.
But children like Ajay from underprivileged communities do miss parks a great deal, as they have no access to government-run public parks. And the children - about 60 of them from schools and NGOs, who are brought together along with parents and care givers at Cubbon Park’s Bal Bhavan for a consultative meeting have no doubts why they are discriminated.
“Our parents do not send us to parks. In any case, most parks are quite far and difficult to reach. Park officials don't allow us in saying we don't dress well and will dirty the place, while older children don't include us in their games,” one of the underprivileged children said at the programme.
The one-day programme, which included children with special needs and was organised by city-based NGO Kilikili had earlier formed groups of children and allowed them to discuss the various things they would like to see in parks.
Starting from having trees in a single line (so that children with visual challenge can walk safely) to having Braille signage's, accessible games and abolishing payment to access parks, children presented a variety of issues that prevented them from enjoying parks.
A group of visually challenged children even composed a song on their desire of playing in a green and open park, while a few others presented pictures of what they consider as ideal parks.
“Though they wanted different equipment and greenery, most of them had very simple desire: a space for themselves,” said Kavitha Ratna, Director of the NGO Concerned for Working Children, who was a facilitator in the programme.
Besides Concerned for Working Children, special schools like Spastic Society of Karnataka (SSK), Association of People with Disability (APD), Shristi Special Academy (SSA) and others have taken part in the programme.
Though the BBMP had approached Kilikili to make inclusive space in the city, the NGO wanted to widen the process by including children who are economically deprived -hailing from slums and child workers.
The organisation has embarked up on a three-way process, having consultations with children, their adult care givers and citizens at large. It hopes to make a final document from the consultations and present it to BBMP.