The inclusive playground building project implemented by the Hungarian National Lottery company based on a joint initiative by European Lotteries (EL) and the European Disability Forum (EDF) has become a real success story. So far, eight special playgrounds, which support the integration of children living with disabilities, have been constructed within the framework of the “Playing brings us together!” programme, which constitutes a flagship initiative in Eastern and Central Europe and is financed using the revenue from the sale of Christmas scratch cards by Szerencsejáték Zrt., and the company is already planning the next step.
This widely successful joint European project was implemented in Hungary thanks to the fact that Szerencsejáték Zrt. was the first in the region and among the first in Europe to join the agreement governing the joint disability initiative of European Lotteries (EL) and the European Disability Forum (EDF) in 2015. After this, in order to define and schedule the key tasks, the lottery company entered into a trilateral agreement with the Hungarian member of the EDF, Council of Organisations for People with Disabilities (FESZT) and the Spanish National Organisation for the Blind (ONCE). This agreement, which regulates the implementation of the project in Hungary, specified the tasks of Szerencsejáték Zrt., keeping in mind the objectives of the continent-wide agreement.
Within the framework of the agreement, Szerencsejáték Zrt. agreed that for the first time in Eastern and Central Europe, it would launch a scratch card series that contributes to shaping social attitudes and announce a programme that supports the cause of people living with disabilities. Honouring its commitment, the company launched a new Christmas scratch card series in 2017 and used part of the sales revenue associated with these tickets to organise the large-scale inclusive playground programme called “Playing brings us together!”, encouraging players to support the cause by purchasing these tickets. As another way of raising awareness, messages concerning disabilities were printed on the back of the tickets.
In order to ensure that the programme became as widely known as possible, the varied content of the related campaign was communicated through various channels and several types of media. The company regularly notifies the public of the results of the “Playing brings us together!” programme and the national media has repeatedly reported on the opening of the playgrounds.
The scratch lottery tickets, which are only available in the two months preceding the holidays, have sold nearly 2.5 million copies each year. Thus, with contributions from the lottery players, eight inclusive playgrounds with a special social function, which take into account the principles of universal design, have been built around the country in the past few years using the revenue from the sale of these Christmas scratch cards, reaching several thousand families and children.
Thanks to their specialised design, the inclusive playgrounds allow children living with disabilities to play alongside children without disabilities, since they will find at least one easy-to-use toy at these playgrounds regardless of the type of disability they possess. The inclusive but not necessarily specialised components installed at these playgrounds ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for the children with the help of their appropriate design, coating, and accessible paths. The reason for the existence and success of inclusive playgrounds is the fact that joint play and joint experiences are able to promote positive changes in the attitudes of children towards the case of disabilities, reflected in the slogan of the programme as well: “The important things are not those that separate us but those that connect us.”
A freely-available methodology guide was prepared for the programme; however, the plans of Szerencsejáték Zrt. include the further sharing and spreading of the experience gained during the implementation of the project, as well as promoting the creation of user communities. The company also plans to continue the successful project in 2020, now in possession of feedback regarding the use of the already opened playgrounds, which will help ensure that the playgrounds built within the framework of the “Playing brings us together!” programme in the future will reflect an even higher standard, gifting the experience of joint play to both children living with disabilities and children without disabilities.