We all have had our own experiences in a playground. As kids, we spent a lot of time exploring and expelling our energies with friends in the playground. We also have head stories from our friends about their experiences on the playground. Well yes, this is where we learn and get exposed to friendship, fight, or fear. It cannot be denied that playgrounds have a profound influence on the minds of children. It helps in the growth and development of children and is vital to their mental and physical well-being. It is an environment where a child can be creative, social, and spontaneous.
Unfortunately, today we see a growing trend of time and research being spent on trying to reduce the costs to develop a playground. Playgrounds are being evaluated in terms of its monitory value rather than on the quality of what we like to call “play value quality”. Yes, it is rather unfortunate that playgrounds are being designed based on a budget when they should first be designed on play quality and then on finance.
We as a society, need to understand that playgrounds are not merely a place for kids to hang out or simply waste away time. It is an environment that is an answer to many issues that children face as they grow up into adultsand also help battle many issues like child obesity or depression.
As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Scientific American states that children who do not play outdoors are at a risk of suffering from depression, anxiety, diabetes, and obesity. To further stress, studies prove that playgrounds help children:
• Develop fine motor skills
• Help develop muscle strength and stronger bones
• Improve mind and body coordination
• Social skills, communication skills, and build friendship
• Develop imagination and help independently solve problems
• Burn energy and explore
Then why are we neglecting these qualities and looking at the monetary aspects of building playgrounds? We should try to develop a play area that is more focused on bringing positive effects on children. In reality, the planning of a playground should be the other way around – first plan the playground and equipment necessary for children, and then plan the budget and other monitory aspects. So first “play quality” and then the “pay value”.
A well-designed playground should have equipment suitable for all ages. Equipment such as slides, swings, towers, and climbing all help develop various areas of a child. It is also important that all equipment be safe and maintained regularly. Many play manufacturers are well aware of the safety standards and the equipment that is necessary to help promote a child’s growth. Also, it is important to follow the playground safety guidelines provided by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It has everything from site layout, hazards, supervision, equipment safety, the spacing between equipment, to surface safety rules. Every playground must follow the rules provided in the handbook.