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Risky Playgrounds Create Healthy Kids

Risky Playgrounds Create Healthy Kids
Danger lurks in many places at the Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment in Richmond, B.C.

The so-called "million dollar playground" in the Vancouver suburb has a 10-metre-tall treehouse, a twisting slide, and 35-metre-long ziplines.

There are plenty of opportunities for kids to fall and hurt themselves — and one neighbouring community likes that idea so much, it wants to follow Richmond's lead, CTV News reported Monday.

The community of Delta, B.C. is looking at updating its Annieville playground with riskier equipment, after a public health expert told council that kids who play safe when they're young show more signs of depression and anxiety later in life.

The goal is "to raise a generation of kids that feel comfortable with trying new things and being creative and feel comfortable failing," UBC professor Mariana Brussoni told CTV.

Taking risks good for development

Learning how to handle risks teaches kids how to "protect themselves in challenging environments," according to University of Texas professor Joe Frost.

"The view that children must somehow be sheltered from all risks of injury is a common misconception of adults," he wrote in a 2006 paper.

Frost said that limiting kids' outdoor play can harm them later in life during an interview with the Journal of Play two years later.

"It limits their physical fitness, hurts their health, and reduces learning and the ability to cope with trauma," the professor said.

"Research shows that when children engage in free,…
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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for bringing light to this issue again. Our school has been working for four years to develop a nature-focused playground which has morphed into a bigger project: a community park with support from local businesses and organizations. It hasn’t been easy though… Feel free to visit our site: http://www.pjcommunitypark.com. I would also be happy to provide you with more information.

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  2. It’s about time! Life is about risks…..I am 64 and know how much better life was before we made it so safe kids didn’t play anymore…..let’s get them back outside yes there may be broken bones oh well it’s part of life…..

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  3. Put kids in charge of their own play experiences to exercise their own minds, muscles and imaginations! We need more adventure playgrounds in this country. When in the finger lakes region of upstate NY please visit A’maze’ing Acres Adventure Play Land, checkout fingerlakesmaze.org

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  4. I agree – kids learn best through play, and playgrounds provide a very necessary place for kids to learn about risk assessment.

    It’s really sad to take my son to a park, and none of the other kids even try to climb up the slides! They all climb up the steps, and one at a time take turns sliding down on the smaller slides (most avoid the biggest, scariest slide).

    Meanwhile, my son, who is autistic and homeschooled, finds the largest, most thrilling slide unused by anyone else. He then proceeds to climb up the slide, and if he makes it to the top, he’ll have the biggest grin plastered on his face for his accomplishment. Then he’ll run off to another piece of play equipment and everyone at the park (kids and adults too) stare at him as if he’s just done the most dangerous thing in the world.

    I know parents mean well when they teach their kids to use the steps and take turns, but my son has learned so much more by not conforming to those rules. He’s learned to pay attention to whether someone else is wanting to slide down when he wants to climb up to avoid the risk of getting knocked off the slide. He’s also learned to challenge himself in safer ways (“if I can’t make it up the biggest slide after 10 tries, maybe I should try the next size down to get better”).

    As kids reach new milestones, they can do more and more things on the playground. But, if they’re never allowed to challenge themselves beyond what they know they can do, how will they ever improve their skills?

    Reply

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