By Doyice Cotten
Children’s playgrounds are always a good source of controversy. Some peop;e seem to want to eliminate every tiny bit of possible danger or risk. These proponents seemingly want to sanitize the playground. If a piece of equipment contains any perceived risk, we must eliminate that risk or even eliminate that type of equipment. Swings have been eliminated from many playgrounds; others have only lowered them, changed the seat, or other modifications. Many playgrounds have removed Jungle Jim type climbers; after all, someone could fall and get hurt. See saws have bitten the dust in many places; gosh, someone could injure an ankle if they tucked it under. Merry-go-rounds are hard to find anymore. Playing surfaces have come (and gone) with new “safer” materials.
Others say “let the kids play!” The traditional equipment is not as dangerous as the safety proponents claim; kids like the traditional equipment. And sure enough, some playgrounds have been replaced at great expense, only to stand idle.
The author was visiting a playground in Thailand and noted the presence of four pieces of traditional equipment. It was not in “like new” condition, but did not look likely to gobble up some unsuspecting youngster.
The swing set had metal seats and might have been a little to close to a low block wall. The see saw set, like the swing set, was minus a little paint from frequent use. Otherwise, it seemed in good repair. Likewise, the merry-go-round showed signs of long use. I imagine that, over the years, more than one kid has been struck by a moving merry-go-round seat. They might have learned to wait till the equipment stopped to approach. And finally, we look at the slide. No, it is not too high; yes, it has safety rails. It has not rusted out so that it contains jagged metal to cut kids. It does have an unusual end to the slide – the kid slides out to a concrete surface with no drop down at the end of the slide. Some danger? Perhaps. But, I suspect that kids come to expect it and adjust for it.
It is interesting that the slide has the barrel attached beneath. It is sort of a merging of traditional with “new.”
Now some readers are probably ready to plow the playground under…, or at least trash the equipment and spend thousands on colorful, plastic replacements. If so, please read the link below!
Others might agree with me that the playground presents evidence of thousands of kids enjoying the equipment over many years. Sure, some have been injured, but some will be injured on colorful, plastic replacement equipment too. Again, I recommend you read the link below.
The link is http://playgroundguru.org/2015/02/10/the-road-to-hell-is-paved-with-good-intentions/ The article is on a blog titled Playground Guru. Check it out for more on playgrounds.
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