One playground will be built in areas that were affected by Hurricane Sandy for every victim of the Newtown massacre. The project is called the Sandy Ground Project: Where Angels Play. The project was conceived by a New Jersey firefighter name Bill Lavin.
The idea is to build 26 total playgrounds along the Hurricane Sandy ravaged coast of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut in honor of the 20 children and six adults who were killed in Newtown. The receptions of the idea from those families affected by both the shooting and hurricane have been great. Everyone agrees that it is a great way to honor those who were killed while starting the return to normalcy for those affected by Sandy.
“What better way to honor the 26 angels of Newtown than to help them bring places destroyed by Sandy back to life with playgrounds for children,” says Becky Kowalski, mother of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. “Chase will love having a playground named in his honor. Every time a child laughs there, it will be him laughing too.”
Three playgrounds have already been built as part of the Sandy Ground Project. The first one built was in honor of Anne Marie Murphy and was erected in Sea Bright, New Jersey. The inspiration for the whole project came to Lavin after receiving a letter from a child who was thanking him and the other firemen who built three handicap-accessible playgrounds for kids affected by Hurricane Katrina. The letter read, “Thank you to the N.J. firemen who built my playground and for the bigger gift of caring so much about us.”
“That gave me the inspiration to build 26 playgrounds in Hurricane Sandy wrecked communities in need of hope,” says Lavin, “and dedicate each one to those taken much too soon in Newtown. I asked my wife if I was crazy. She said I was, but that it was a great idea.”
Lavin said that each playground will be designed to fit the personality of the person it honors. Three will be built in New York, including one in Rockaway for Noah Pozner. He also stated that the project needs contributions to keep building the living, breathing, laughing monuments to the fallen of Newtown. To help with the project, you can go to www.thesandygroupproject.org.
The warm weather is here and soon you will be taking your kids to the playground. Kids love to play at the park, but depending on the social and emotional skills of the children, some interactions can be fun and others not so much. The skills that children need to make friends and get along with others when playing are something they need to learn from watching their parents.
Children naturally mimic the behaviors of their parents. The younger the child is, the more they learn by interpreting what they see. So to better prepare your children to be good members of society and play well with their peers, you should play with them and teach them the social skills they will need. Here are some ways you can prepare your children for playing with others on the playground:
• Join in – Introduce yourself to the children that your kids are playing with and the other adults. If they are open to it, play with them. This way your children can see the right way to act when playing with others.
• Organize play – Teach your kids how to organize play by doing it yourself. Show them how to give play ideas and how to make suggestions for what to do next.
• Taking Turns – You can teach your children how to take turns by walking them through the steps and providing guidance. You can tell them how one person goes down the slide at a time and once the person in front of you goes it is their turn.
• Sharing – Be authentic when you play with your kids. Don’t always let them come up with ideas and get to do whatever they want. Show them how there may only be one toy and that they have to share it by taking turns or using it together.
• Giving compliments – Giving compliments has a powerful effect on forming and building friendships. It can also help your kids understand teamwork and how to acknowledge the contributions of others. Giving your kids compliments for sharing or taking turns will build their self-esteem and encourage them to continue to use those skills.
National Playground Safety Week for 2013 was April 22 through the 26th. This is a time to focus on safe play at children’s outdoor play environments. It is also a time to be grateful for the people who maintain the playgrounds so your kids can have a safe place to play. Due to the frequent injuries from playground accidents, the National Program for Playground Safety is teaming up with Dr. Ed Holt to promote awareness to playground safety. Playground safety is a concern that should be addressed all year round.
What You Can Do
Playgrounds won’t become safer all by themselves. People need to take action in order to make sure the playgrounds that their kids enjoy are safe. Here are some things you can do to make your local playgrounds a safer place:
• Design and distribute surveys to figure out what the favorite and least favorite playground equipment are.
• Create and hang posters in schools and community areas that outline S.A.F.E playground practices.
• Complete playground equipment safety checks and evaluations.
• Report any broken or unsafe equipment to your town hall.
• Talk to your children about safe play habits and give them rules they should follow on the playground.
Every year over 200,000 children are injured on America’s playgrounds. The National Program for Playground Safety created the S.A.F.E factors that outline the four things needed to maintain a safe playground atmosphere.
1) Provide proper supervision of children on playgrounds
2) Design age-appropriate playgrounds
3) Provide proper fall surfacing under and around playgrounds
4) Properly maintain playground equipment
Falls are the number one cause of injury on playgrounds. Parents can help avoid these injuries by keeping a close on them while they are using playground equipment. Small children should be watched to make sure they are capable of using the equipment and that they are using it correctly. Older children need to have an eye kept on them to make sure that they are using playground etiquette around smaller children.
Whenever your children are on the playground you should be supervising them. As they get older you can give them more freedom, but even the big kids need to be watched. Younger children need more supervision to make sure they are using the playground equipment correctly. There are some elements of playgrounds that younger children are physically incapable of doing, but might not know it. Bigger, older children are faster and stronger than the younger kids that they are sharing the playground with. Parents need to make sure that they keep playground etiquette in mind and any roughhousing or running that would put them or other children in danger should be discouraged.
Children should be wearing appropriate clothing when they are using playground equipment. They should avoid things like necklaces, backpacks, and anything with a drawstring because they could potentially cause strangulation. Tennis shoes that cover the toe and that won’t slip off are the best footwear. Sandals and flip-flops should be avoided because they do not support the ankles and pose a tripping hazard.
Some of the most common playground injuries include;
• Cuts and abrasions
This playground isn’t just for kids! There are programs out there that use playgrounds as a place to get a great workout. Why pay for an expensive gym membership when you can use playground equipment to get a workout? There are many outdoor boot camps that often take advantage of playground equipment in their workouts. Not only is it an affordable way to work out, it’s fun!
Lindsay Vastola is the owner of Body Project Boot Camp, a New Jersey based boot camp company with three locations. She says people enjoy working out in playgrounds because “they’re craving something outside of the big box gym and typical fitness routines. Playground workouts allow adults to rekindle the feeling of being a kid again and let them be creative about getting fit. Being outdoors naturally just gives people extra energy.” Some workouts that Vastola suggests doing at a playground are;
• Using slides for more challenging push-ups or sit-ups
• Monkey bars for pull-ups
• Holding yourself stationary on a swing in the plank position
Peter Lavelle is the co-owner of Ultimate Bootcamp, which has 14 locations throughout New England. He incorporates playgrounds into his company’s boot camp workouts. They do things like use benches for tricep dips and use the rubber mats from playground flooring for high-impact work like burpees or squat jumps. Lavelle says that it is important to keep in mind that the playgrounds are designed for kids. So be respectful to them by using the playground equipment to exercise during off hours. He also cautions people that safety is extremely important and before using something “try to ensure that it’s capable of holding your weight.”
If you want to find playgrounds near you, check out the Map of Play app by KaBOOM. This app from a national nonprofit organization dedicated to children’s play will show you where the closest playgrounds are to you. So get out there and start having fun and exercising!
Summer is finally around the corner! With the days starting to get warmer, your kids will want to play outside more. After a rough winter, it is important to check all of your backyard play equipment to make sure it is up to par. Make sure all of the equipment your kids will be playing on in your yard is safe!
The cold weather and snow can be rough on swing sets, slides, monkey bars, climbing walls, forts, and all other outdoor play equipment. Before you let your kids run outside and use the equipment, you should do a once-over on them to make sure there are no repairs that need to be done. You always want your children to be safe while they play outside, so their play equipment must be maintained.
Here is a safety-proofing checklist you can use to make sure all of your backyard play equipment is ready to be used;
Before they play…..
o Check all metal parts for rust or other deterioration
o Provide your children with a soft landing with proper surfacing to prevent injuries
o Replace any deteriorated parts with new ones
o Lubricate metallic moving parts
o Check all protective coverings on bolts, pipes, edges, and corners
o Tighten all hardware
o Sand down any splinters on wooden parts
o Cut off all protruding threaded ends of bolts and other fasteners and remove any sharp edges
o Ensure equipment is on level ground, no less than 6 feet from any structure or obstruction such as a fence, garage, or tree
o Adjust all swings for a minimum of 8 inch clearance between the swing and the ground surface
o Use a water seal on your gym set to protect wood and prevent cracking and warping
During play season…..
o Check all nuts and bolts twice monthly for tightness and tighten when necessary
o Oil all metallic moving parts monthly
o Check all hardware and equipment for sharp edges twice monthly
o Check swing seats and chains monthly for deterioration
o Remind your children of safe play rules, including appropriate swinging space, sharing with others, and being polite
A new resolution has made the playground areas in Lancaster County Central and D.F. Buchmiller parks tobacco-free zones. The two parks join more than a dozen county municipalities that have taken similar steps to make their parks smoke-free.
The resolution stems from a model that the YWCA and Lancaster General Hospital that was developed by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Tobacco Control Project to combat child tobacco use. It is estimated that 3,900 children each day try their first cigarette and one-third of them will go on to die prematurely of tobacco-related illness. The new resolution will create a safe public area for children to play.
Paul Weiss is the county’s parks and recreation administrator and said only the playgrounds were included because the county wanted to strike a balance between respecting adults’ right to smoke and children’s health. “The playgrounds at this point are pretty much a no-brainer”, he said. The pool at Central Park has had a designated smoking area for several years now. There are nine parks in the county, but only Central and Buschmiller have children’s playgrounds.
The YWCA will be providing the signs for the county to post at the playgrounds. The park signs will be similar to those placed in other municipalities and will also have a QR code that smartphone users can scan that will bring them to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Tobacco Control Project’s website.
The signs establishing the playground areas as tobacco-free zones are not to create fines or penalties, but they create an atmosphere of self-enforcement. The resolution is to prevent second hand smoke from affecting the children and to create a safe environment. Park employees will periodically check the areas for compliance.
As many parents know, not all children are inclined to play sports. This could be attributed to a number of reasons, from the competitive nature of leagues to simply not enough coordination. Parents, rather than pushing their child into a sport simply to stay active, need to consider their child’s temperament and personality first: a non-athlete, casual athlete, and an athlete, from least to most competitive.
The obesity epidemic has been a serious concern, but even before a child experiences weight problems, which are linked to increased risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, parents need to encourage physical activity. Ideally, children, as well as adults, should get about 60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per day. What are some ways you can get your child active without sports?
Design an obstacle course of some kind in your backyard. Objects from inside the house can be combined with playground equipment and spaces outdoors. Children, meanwhile, get to engage in creativity with rules and directions. Parents should keep an eye on the children to make sure it’s safe.
Alone or With a Group
Group activities don’t always need to be sports related. In fact, many games have simple rules that anyone can play! If your child isn’t aware already, teach him or her how to play tag, kickball, relays, or any number of jump rope games.
Go To a Playground
Another spot for unstructured play, playgrounds are excellent for children of all ages. Although equipment has been taking on a similar appearance in recent years, pieces from swings to slides let children climb, explore, use social skills, and ultimately be active.
From going to the corner store to school, children, with their peers or parents, can get exercise through a walk. Once your child can competently stay on his or her feet, start by walking around the block and other placed in the neighborhood.
Indoor playgrounds appear poised as a trend: easy to set up and manage and a great place for children to move and stay active when the weather is cold. One of the latest to garner attention is Jump Jump at Peachtree Corners, Georgia. Opening in December 2012, the indoor playground recently profiled in Patch.com features inflatables for children of all ages, including obstacle courses, and has a padded floor ideal for somersaults and rolls.
Like many modern playgrounds, Jump Jump seems built with the understanding that children at different ages have varying abilities and needs. Because of this, a separate space for toddlers was created with tunnels and appropriately-sized obstacle courses and equipment.
Rounding out the 13,000 square feet of space are three rooms for birthday parties and a seating area for parents. Because of the amount of usage, the play area is cleaned twice per day.
But as indoor playgrounds gain in popularity, the risks and drawbacks are being pointed out. A story by CBS Local in Minnesota revealed that viruses and other germs spread quickly in an indoor playground during ‘flu season. Their investigation involved visiting three indoor playgrounds, taking samples of germs, and finding out how often each is cleaned.
Unlike standard playgrounds, where children have shoes on, children roam in bare feet or socks in indoor spaces, and hundreds of hands touch the same equipment. For the playground spaces examined, germs for meningitis, skin infections, and stomach illnesses were found on the equipment. But unlike a parks and recreation team maintaining the space, it’s up to the indoor playground’s owner to keep all equipment and mats sanitized. In the case of Jump Jump, cleaning is fairly regular, but the Minnesota CBS Local reporters found that deep cleaning, beyond a simple disinfection, is only a once per week or twice per month occurrence.
Although we have drawn attention to the growing phenomena of adult playgrounds, a piece on Today.com indicates they’re a trend about to happen in the U.S.
Such spaces are already standard in Europe and China. In New York, over the summer of 2012, a similar space opened at Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx. About 24 more adult playgrounds are planned for the rest of the five boroughs over the next 18 months, and others in the U.S. are asking for them.
What makes an adult playground different from models designed for children? When the New York Times profiled the playground in the Bronx, they pointed out that the design mirrors spaces similar for children: colorful metal and plastic monkey bars and balancing beams are juxtaposed with similarly-styled racks for sit-ups and chin-up bars. But while looking like a space for children on the surface, the playground geared toward adults is an alternative to the gym for getting in shape and staying active. Spending time outdoors is another added benefit.
As Today.com points out, other adult playgrounds are shared spaces for parents and adults. Equipment is spaced in such a way that parents stay active while watching their children play. Children, meanwhile, get influenced by their active and healthy parents.
Such spaces for adults are hardly contained in New York and, in fact, appear poised to be a national trend. For instance, marketing firm J. Walker Thompson named adult playgrounds a top trend in its “Things to Watch in 2013 Health & Wellness Report.” Aside from simply increasing exercise, the spaces appear to be one effort to combat obesity and an option for staying fit outside of a gym. The report further cites increased sales of adult-sized equipment in the U.K.