As the experts put it, a playground should be a hub for kids to enhance their social, physical and emotional skills. Having an open playground in schools, in parks or in the community will help kids interact and with other kids building social connection. They also note that playground facilities develop children’s flexibility and motor skills. Thus, choosing quality playground equipment is a must.

There might be a lot of considerations in choosing playground equipment. But basically, there are just three important things to consider:

Value of fun and learning: A playground is a fun and enjoyable place. And, the more equipment it has, the more fun it will be for kids. You can have see saws, slides, climbers, swings, play houses and obstacle courses scattered around the place for the kids to enjoy. Colors enhance the fun environment in a playground too. So choose equipments with colorful designs to create a festive mood that kids will like.

Playground equipments should not only be fun. They should also be able to provide and facilitate learning and progress to kids. So make sure that each piece of equipment contributes to the development of the motor and mental skills of your child.

Durability: In choosing playground equipments, make sure that they will last long so you won’t have to buy new ones year after year. Consider the materials used for the equipment. There are playground equipments made of wood, metal, aluminum and plastic. Each has their own pros and cons.

Materials made of Wood are strong but may rot through time especially if the equipments are exposed to drastic weather changes. Metal and aluminum are stronger but may corrode and rust. Plastic are lighter and cheap, but it may fail to support heavier children.

Be careful in looking on the specifications of the equipments you buy for your playground. Choose only equipments made of high-grade materials to ensure quality and durability.

Safety: Safety is the most important consideration when choosing equipments. While you cannot foresee playground accidents, prevent them by making sure that the equipments are safe to use.

Examine the equipments first before buying. If they are pre-made, check the corners and edges as well as the joints to see if they are sturdy enough. For see saws, check sockets and bolts and make sure they are intact. For climbers, check each bar if they are well-attached to their support. For swings, make sure that the ropes or chains are strong enough to support weight.

You should always be keen and meticulous in choosing the right equipment for your playground. Make Think about these three important considerations when you buy see saws, slides and other playground equipments for a safe and long lasting fun and enjoyment!

Fun and games form one of the most important learning activities for children. Children need to exercise their minds and muscles in order to develop as required. Outdoor playgrounds have been the main area of play for children, but the development of indoor games and playing equipment has worked to offer a viable alternative. Indoor playing equipment is weather free meaning that children can continue playing even in bad weather. It is also important to note that indoor playing equipment is safer for kids as their parents can watch as they play eliminating some of the risks associated with crowded outdoor playing grounds. Below we will look at some of the factors to consider when shopping for indoor playing equipment.


First and foremost, it is important to note that the most restrictive factor, when it comes to buying indoor playing equipment, is the budget. There are many outdoor playing equipment companies that market a wide array of playing equipment at various price ranges. From board games to expansive slides and even swing sets, the variety is endless. Buyers should first come up with a budget so as to have an idea of what they can afford and what is out of their price range.


It goes without saying that indoor playing equipment requires indoor space for installation. The space requirements vary depending on the chosen equipment. It is important to have specific details relating to the space available including ceiling height and floor dimensions when you are going shopping to make sure that you do not buy equipment that is too large for your home. It is recommended that you use a tape measure to take accurate measurements of the available space.


All playing equipment should adhere to high safety standards. Remember that you are buying playing equipment for your child and would not want to buy anything that can harm them. Buying cheap equipment is not always the best decision as the quality of the equipment might be questionable and hence compromising its safety. Be sure to enquire and research about the safety of all the indoor playing equipment you want to buy.


When buying indoor playing equipment such as slides and swing sets make sure you enquire about the maintenance needs of the same. It is important to note that ignoring to keep all the equipment well maintained will affect their effectiveness, quality and resultantly safety. All maintenance requirements should be adhered to strictly without fail or delay. It is also important to note that maintenance needs increase the outlay on such equipment in the long run.

Parents should follow the above-described guide in sourcing the most appropriate and useful indoor playing equipment to ensure that their kids get to develop as is necessary.

This step-by-step instructional video details the proper way to install a playground spring rider.

Building playgrounds for kids is an exciting way to give the youngsters a place to enjoy and play. Playgrounds enhance not only the services but also the value of parks, communities, and schools.

Here are some of the things to consider when building playgrounds:

Area: Basically, the first thing, to look for when building playgrounds, is the area where it will be built. It can be in parks, in daycare centers or a vacant lot in a small community. Survey the area for its size and condition. Identifying and examining the area give you the idea on how many facilities you can put into it and how many children it can accommodate. Think of possible ways to develop it. Will you grow grass on it or leave it as it is? Take note that the bigger the area, the more equipment and facilities you can put into it. And more facilities mean more fun not only for kids but for adults as well.

Facilities: Playgrounds should have great equipment and facilities to make it more exciting. When choosing the facilities, it is important to consider the value of fun and learning they can give to kids. You can put seesaws, slides and obstacle courses in your playground for kids to enjoy. These equipments contribute to the development of children’s motor skills. You can also add some learning facilities like tables with chess and checker boards drawn on it or huge ABC blocks and play houses to enhance the children’s mental and social skills. Playgrounds should also have benches for adults to sit on while watching their kids playing.

Design: Utilize the space well when designing the playground. Be sure to organize playground facilities in a manner that they do not block one another. The design should be methodical. It should also promote safety.

Safety: Playgrounds should not just be fun. They should also be safe. As always, safety should be a top consideration when building playgrounds. Kids are very energetic and playful so they will do a lot of running and climbing. Make sure that the floor is well-kept and not slippery. Also, make sure that the equipments are intact and are properly installed in their appropriate places. Once built, make sure that the playground will have constant maintenance to ensure safety.

Cost: How much is your budget? You should have a budget plan on the amount you will spend in building playgrounds. It will always help you keep track of the financial aspect of the project. To save more, find a supplier that can offer you good deals for the materials and facilities to be used. There are a lot of them whom you can contact and make a deal with.

Keep these considerations in mind to build exciting playgrounds that are fun and safe.

Posted by in Blog on February 9, 2015

Federal or state funding can actually be used for different organizations, societies and schools who want to take the initiative of creating playgrounds, as well as recreational parks for children. If you observe that your facilities need a playground, you can search out for these grants in order to see whether you can avail of them or not. Aside from this, if you already have a playground and notices that it needs renovation or repair so that it can par up to safety standards, you can also apply for a grant.

How Can These Grants Be Used?

Whether you are creating playgrounds from scratch or just replacing some equipment as part of repair and renovation, your organization may need extra funding. After all, the money, to be used, may not be readily available for the moment. For most cases in various organizations, these types of projects are simply left behind, and ending up being ignored for many years. The government, together with different organizations, has initiated a solution in order to offer back to the society a portion of what they receive from it. The need for these parks has been raised, and thus, initiative was put into place.

When talking about repair of currently existing playgrounds, there is priority on old, broken, and potentially dangerous equipment. By adding this new and enhanced equipment, the area will be enhanced, making it suitable for playing among children of different ages. In some communities, these playgrounds do not just serve as a place where children gather because they can also act as parks where the entire family can also meet. Therefore, the condition of these places should be more than just safe; they should also be conducive for leisure and fun.

All of these things can only be made possible if there is enough federal or state funding, which is necessary for the repair work. When these areas are in their top condition, they can offer a comfortable and healthy environment for the children and families, helping them stay active, which is also a good way to fight conditions such as childhood obesity. As they interact with other children in the playground, they also learn how to socialize with other people, thus improving their skills. Kids, whose social skills have been founded well from childhood, have a good chance to become better, peaceable citizens when they grow up.

Therefore, if your school, community or organization needs money in order to create a haven for association and enhancement of children’s social skills, you can check whether you can avail of the grants offered by the government. This also goes the same way if your current playground needs repair or renovation.

This video provides an overview of how to safely use the wheelchair platform swing from SportsPlay Equipment, Inc.

A playground is simply a playground, right? Many parents have never really thought about what types of play equipment their children are playing on at parks. It can be surprising to find out that a lot of playground equipment doesn’t teach your child much of anything—and that there is a kind of playground equipment that does.

Motion Play is an amazing new invention that allows children to learn as they are playing, something that you will not be able to find in many other parks. When you want children to learn more and still be able to have a lot of fun, consider taking your child to a park that has Motion Play playground equipment to help them develop skills that they would not get anywhere else from a young age.

If you own a daycare or another establishment that has children and playgrounds, this will be a good investment to help our youngsters turn into people who have these kinds of skills from a young age.

Why Motion Play?

The variety of movement that this playground equipment gives your children is exceptional. When you take children to playgrounds, they will be moving in a lot of ways, but these playgrounds challenge children to move in ways that they would not on a normal playground. Movements such as swinging are common, but why not take that concept and apply it to more than just swings?

Swinging is one of the most sought after activities at parks. When children swing, they develop skills such as special awareness and sensory skills, balance and posture. These skills could save their lives later along. Swinging develops a skill set that is very essential in today’s world. We create swings that allow many children play together and interact with each other.

Another fun way that children like to play at parks is through spinning. Spinning can be taken to places other than the merry go round. When you introduce an overhead spinning element that is driven by momentum, this is a good challenge. It will challenge children to use their strength and coordination to get the wheel spinning. This is an important skill to have later in life as well because they will have to have good coordination.

Also, other types of spinning playground equipment can be educational for young people. Motion play spinners have many uses. These teach coordination, strength and awareness of the surrounding space and how it relates to the body. Also, if you have a child with autism, it will help increase vestibular stimulation, which is essential. Motion Play works to create playground equipment that is exceptionally fun, yet still teaches your youngsters future skill sets.

More and more children in the current generation have been staying inside to play video games or watch television, and that has led to some development problems that parents may not have considered before. Engaging your child in play outdoors can strongly help their development that they’ll need for years to come. Any physical fitness or activity not only helps them stay fit, but it can also engage their minds in creative thought.

Playgrounds and parks are ideal spaces where children can engage in outdoor play. They can practice and master certain physical skills that they can’t do while they remain inside. It gets them running and jumping, and even working on those finer motor skills, such as catching balls, playing on the monkey bars, and playing tag. They’re more likely to stay fit and help the growth of their bones as they begin to mature while keeping them healthy and strong, and preventing problems from occurring in the future.

In addition to exercise, the exposure to sunlight can also help to regulate the pineal gland. This essential gland is what regulates our “biological clock”, so that we feel tired when the sun goes down and more alert when the sun is up. It also helps to boost our immune systems, so that we’re less likely to contract infections and diseases, and has been shown to reduce the risk of the onset of depression.

Playing outdoors also aids in the development of learning and creativity. They can invent games to play with each other, make up their own rules, determine what the end goal is, and be flexible with those rules as they see fit, as they learn of new considerations that they’d never thought of before. Engaging in play allows them to express themselves in an open environment while they learn about the world around them and how to engage with others. Cooperation is a key part of their development, as it teaches them very early on the kind of elements that they consider when they’re looking for friends.

In addition to learning about nature, they can experience nature for itself as well. They can learn about the growth cycle of trees, the kind of animals that live in the park, smell the various flowers, and feel the difference between a dead leaf and a real one. They can put all of their senses to the test in playgrounds and parks, engaging in a variety of physical activities that will aid in the development and fine-tuning of those senses.

Parents shouldn’t underestimate the value that physical fitness or activity can have a child’s life. Getting them at an early age and as often as possible can teach children to develop their problem-solving skills, and challenge the world around them with questions.

Balance Beam Walk –  You don’t need a real balance beam to work it like a gymnast. To challenge your balance and strengthen your core muscles, find a curb or plank and try to walk the entire length (.10 point deduction for every wobble!). Tip: Once you’ve mastered walking forward, try going backwards!

Arabesque – Get toned like a ballerina with this classic dance move. Lightly grasp a bar in front of you at about waist height. Keeping your left leg straight, lift your right leg up directly behind you until you feel a squeeze in your butt. Pulse your lifted leg up to the sky 10 times before lowering. Tip: The bar is just there for balance (falling on wood chips can get sliver-y!) so don’t use it if you don’t need it.
Static Arm Hang – You may have nightmares about doing this one in gym class but trust me, it’s a lot better when you don’t have 20 classmates staring at your underarms. Holding the bar in either an overhand (pull-up) or underhand (chin-up, like our girl) grip, hang on as long as you can keep your chin above the bar. You’ll feel this one in your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and upper back depending on your grip. Tip: Add extra work by lowering yourself as slowly as possible when you’re finished hanging.
Bench Push-Up – Push-ups are great for working your chest, shoulders, arms, and even core (hold it in tight so your hips don’t sag). If you’re not ready to do them on the ground, try an elevated push-up with your hands on a bench. Tip: Need more of a challenge? Put both of your feet on the bench and your hands on the ground to turn these into a decline push-up!
Calf Raise – Stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Raise your body by pushing the balls of your feet into the step and then lower, extending your heels down. Immediately press back up as far as you comfortably can. Try doing 10 slow and then 20 quick pulses to really get those calves burning. Tip: You can add weight to these by holding a small child (preferably one you’re already acquainted with) or a backpack full of books to your chest.
Cardio Sprints – Mix a few sprints in between these body weight exercises to get a full-body circuit workout that will challenge you aerobically as well muscularly. Try sprinting up the stairs and down the slide (or fireman pole!), play tag with the kids, or even just run laps around the outside of the park.
Chin-Up – Playgrounds are the perfect place to work on your chin-ups (underhand grip, like me) or pull-ups (overhand grip), because they have so many different heights of bars. If you can already do one with proper form, use the monkey bars to do as many chin-ups as you can. If you’re still working on lifting your whole body weight, try our modified chin-up (see next slide). Tip: Use the different types of bars to try different grips—narrow, wide, palms facing inward, etc.

Posted by in Uncategorized on January 3, 2015

Portable and permanent bleachers are available!  Too many choices to list – call now for a quote!



Posted by in Blog on May 29, 2014

Imagine a standard piece of commercial playground equipment. Incorporate creative engineering and increased play value, and then visualize a fun-filled…

It’s no big secret that children are currently on the fast track to success. What kind of success they might find at the end of this high-pressure race remains to be seen, but they are being pushed to succeed everywhere they turn.

Children, it seems, are losing childhood.

I recently took a call from a friend who needed guidance, and a little bit of support, as she wrestled with a frustrating and overwhelming situation. Her little girl, a first grade student at a private school in California, is struggling with intense academic pressure. While her daughter is performing well in school overall, test anxiety makes some days harder than others and the amount of homework coming home each night triggers tears of frustration fairly regularly. And when the work is finally done each day, there is hardly any time left for play. At 7 years old, her daughter can’t find time to play.

It’s a story I hear too often, from friends and clients alike. Children are so burdened by pressure that they don’t have time to be children.

Academic pressure is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to fast tracking childhood, though. Yes, learning is accelerated across the board, but so is childhood in general. We’ve experienced a gradual cultural shift in this country, and it’s becoming more and more prevalent with each passing year.

It’s true that young children are more likely to face intense academic pressure right now, but they are also overloaded with extracurricular activities. They play competitive sports (sometimes two sports during each “season”), they take the best music and art classes available, they join community-based programs and they fill their weekends with play dates and parties.

Children are losing childhood because they aren’t given the gift of time to play. That cultural shift — that intense need to raise competent successful people? That responsibility belongs to all of us. As a country, we need to wake up to the increased stress levels among children and learn how to dial it back. If we want to raise happy kids, we need to start by taking back childhood.

In a recent article in The Independent, Boston College Professor and Researcher and author of “Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life”Peter Gray, addressed the need for more unstructured playtime for children. Gray maintains that some of the most important skills children need to learn are not taught in the classroom. Play is the vehicle by which children learn to relate to others, to solve problems, and to regulate their emotions.

I couldn’t agree more. Play is so much more than the characters children take on and the storylines that develop. Through play, children learn to master their fears, assert their needs, process and cope with their emotions, and learn to get along with others. Play helps children resolve conflict and relieve stress.

And yet, many children lack sufficient time to engage in child-directed unstructured play. Children are so busy with academics and so overloaded with adult directed activities that they don’t have time to simply be children.

It’s time to make a change. As parents, we can’t control the amount of academic pressure that our children face each day, and we certainly can’t control the amount of homework that comes home each night, but we can change how we help our children when they are at home. We can rethink our priorities and make changes to the their schedules so that they have time to get back to the business of play.

5 Reasons to let your kids play:

1. Stress relief:

Play provides an opportunity for young children to process and work through the negative emotions they encounter throughout the day. Being a kid might seem like all fun and games, and perhaps their “problems” seem insignificant at times, but they do encounter stress along the way. heir problems feel big and overwhelming to them.

Children work through all kinds of emotions when engrossed in unstructured play. They might start out feeling stressed, but once lost in a world of imagination, they gradually let go of their stress and restore a sense of calm.

2. Emotional regulation:

Parents often ask me how to teach their children the art of emotional regulation. Little kids tend to have very big feelings and they often react before they have time to even process the event that triggered the feelings.

Through play, children learn to control their impulses and work through their emotions. They learn to find the triggers and problem-solve potential solutions.

3. Better social interaction skills:

Unstructured group play is the best way to let kids work on social interaction skills. When engrossed in group play, kids have to learn how to cooperate, resolve conflicts, empathize with others, and relate to peers.

4. Promotes creative problem-solving:

You can memorize answers to math questions (and you can even memorize strategies to solve difficult math problems), but you can’t memorize ways to solve real-life problems. What if a puzzle piece goes missing? What if another child is left out of a group? What if the tower just won’t stay up?

Children face a variety of problems each day, and these problems vary by age and stage. They have to learn how to step back and evaluate a situation before giving up or becoming hysterical. They have to learn how to think outside of the box. And that is something they can learn through the power of play.

5. Promotes learning:

The great irony of increasing academic pressure at the expense of unstructured play is that play actually promotes learning. Have you ever watched kids dump out a recycling bin and build something from nothing just because they felt like it? It takes planning, creative thinking, cooperation and resourcefulness to transform a bunch of old cardboard into a monster truck show, you know.

Play is the most natural learning style for children. They learn from play from the very first moment they shove wooden blocks into their mouths and they continue to learn through more advanced play as they grow.

So go ahead and say no to that party this weekend, speak up when the academics become overwhelming and start cutting back on those extracurricular activities. Happier, and less stressful, days are ahead for children. All you have to do is let them play.

Follow Katie Hurley on Twitter: 

See original story here. 

Once again re-shaping the face of commercial playground equipment, Dynamo’s new series of artistic Ropes Courses blend visual display with play appeal….

Posted by in Blog on February 13, 2014

Residents of Mesa, Arizona and the surrounding region recently enjoyed the long-awaited grand re-opening of Riverview Park. The City if Mesa offered a day of spectacle as they unveiled the completely new park and sports facility including wide open green spaces, shade and picnic areas, fishing lakes, splash pad and incredible new playground in addition to the new Chicago Cubs Spring Training Facility. Huge crowds of visitors came to see, and the sea of grinning faces & loud buzz of happy voices and laughter proved the day a complete success!

Prominently visible from any approach, park visitors or passersby easily notice the most memorable features of this playground whether on freeways or local streets. Mesa Parks staff worked with local distributor AZ Rec Design and Dynamo Playgrounds to create truly unique playground achievements that are sure to draw visitors from near and far.

The first feature of this playground everyone will notice is one that has been perplexing locals for months after it rose behind the construction fence. Pyramid Net Climbers have become familiar sights on playgrounds in recent years, but no playground has seen one like this. Standing 15M tall – nearly 50 feet – The DX-108 is the World’s Tallest Pyramid Net by Dynamo and sets an entirely new standard for playground awesomeness.

Also attracting a high volume of attention is the first structure in Dynamo’s new Art Play series. Although markedly shorter than its big brother beside it, this Ropes Course winds its way over almost 10,000 square feet. Designed with extensive consultation between AZ Rec Design and the City, this special ropes course offers a rope play unlike any one style of net climber.

Undulating planes, ever-changing angles and an entire collection of different frames offer the user a multitude of experiences as they cruise through the different sections. With such a variety the children will find endless new and different ways to enjoy this special piece, being called by some The Caterpillar.

Already a favourite with residents of Mesa, this playground is setting the tone for future playground thinking locally and beyond. Congratulations Mesa on a fantastic result!


In an era of childhood obesity, exercise might be one of the best things a doctor could prescribe. So why not do that?

Leaders at one of country’s oldest outdoor organizations — the Appalachian Mountain Club — brought that question to pediatricians at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The result is prescription plan called Outdoors RX. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Martha Bebinger of WBUR reports from a pediatrician’s office.


Copyright 2013 WBUR-FM. To see more, visit



Well, sticking with health news, given that one out of three American kids are overweight or obese, exercise might be one of the best things a doctor can prescribe. So why not give it a try? Leaders at one of the country’s oldest outdoor organizations brought that question to pediatricians at one of the country’s most venerable hospitals. The result is a prescription plan called Outdoors RX. From the HERE AND NOW Contributors Network, WBUR’s Martha Bebinger begins our story in an examination room where a Boston pediatrician is wrapping up a visit with a young patient.

DR. KAREN SADLER: So Melody, as we finish our check-up today, I have one more thing to tell you…

MARTHA BEBINGER, BYLINE: Dr. Karen Sadler pulls a stool up to the examination table where eight-year-old Melody Salhudin sits, her legs dangling over the edge.

SADLER: And, you know, you come here when you’re sick, but you also come to the pediatrician so we can help you stay healthy. And part of staying healthy is being active, so this prescription lets you join a special program. It’s called

BEBINGER: Outdoors RX is a partnership between the Appalachian Mountain Club, or AMC, and Massachusetts General Hospital. The two organizations are testing the idea of having doctors write prescriptions for outdoor exercise in two Boston suburbs that have high rates of childhood obesity. Melody, a quick study, gets the point.

MELODY SALHUDIN: To help people stay strong and healthy and to make sure they get up and get their body, like, grooving and moving,

BEBINGER: The Appalachian Mountain Club isn’t known for moving and grooving.

PAM HESS: Originally we thought of hiking or biking.

BEBINGER: And other more traditional AMC activities, says Pam Hess, who runs Outdoors RX. But Hess soon realized that many kids in these communities are not used to, or even comfortable, spending time outdoors. So when Melody and other patients go to the program’s website, they can sign up for nature storytelling, arts and crafts in a park.

HESS: Family games. This is a year-round program. So there’ll be winter activities, whether it’s winter tracking, or summertime we’ll be getting down and doing micro-hikes so you don’t need a lot of space to do it.

BEBINGER: Micro-hikes? AMC, the rugged mountaineering conservation group, is promoting something called micro-hikes?

HESS: That’s pretty much looking down at your feet, so even an area as small as inside of a hula hoop. You can look for different colors, different shapes, different sizes of things, and you can discover a whole new world using your imagination.

BEBINGER: If that’s what it takes to get kids outdoors, Hess says, AMC will do it. Dr. Sadler says she jumped at the chance to participate, after years of talking to patients about staying healthy and feeling like the message never made it home.

SADLER: If a prescription takes a set of words and makes it more concrete, then I think the weight of this message is every bit as important as the Amoxicillin you write for their ear infection.

BEBINGER: It’s too early to tell what percentage of kids will fill their get outdoors prescription.

MARY SALHUDIN: Work your legs out, baby, we’ve got to walk.

BEBINGER: Melody’s mother, Mary Salhudin, her dad, a sister and a nephew turned on to a paved path that loops around a park in Framingham, Massachusetts. It’s an AMC event that fills Melody’s prescription.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Eli, come down. Come down, Eli.

BEBINGER: Melody’s sister chases a nephew up a hill covered in fall leaves. This was part of Dr. Sadler’s grand plan: to use Melody to get the whole family out and moving. It worked.

IBN SALHUDIN: That’s right. Got me out walking, because I just – I wouldn’t be out here.

BEBINGER: That’s Ibn Salhudin, Melody’s dad. He had a heart attack two years ago and is supposed to walk 15 minutes a day. This three-quarter-mile loop is more exercise than anyone in the family, except maybe Melody, has had in a long time.

SALHUDIN: Can I run 20 times? Running around and around and around and around…

SALHUDIN: We know you can.

BEBINGER: Mary Salhudin has to calm her daughter down as the walk ends.

SALHUDIN: Who are we going to call Monday?

SALHUDIN: Dr. Sadler.

SALHUDIN: And tell her what?

SALHUDIN: That we did the walk.

BEBINGER: And what will Dr. Sadler say?

SALHUDIN: Good job. I’m proud of you. It will make me feel happy and proud of myself.

BEBINGER: The way many of us often feel when we get out and move. For HERE AND NOW, I’m Martha Bebinger in Boston.


CHAKRABARTI: All right. Well, Jeremy, after that, I feel like going out on a hike. What about you?


I always feel like going out on a hike. One of my favorite things to do when I was living in L.A. would be to hike up into the hills. And if we could put some bigger hills around Boston, maybe I can…


HOBSON: …do that here too.

CHAKRABARTI: I’m sure we can take care of that.

HOBSON: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I’m Jeremy Hobson.

CHAKRABARTI: I’m Meghna Chakrabarti. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.



The ability of a disabled child to enjoy a playground is directly affected by the ground surface on which he or she is playing, a recent IU study shows.

Results from a five-year study analyzing the accessibility and safety measurements of playground surfaces were released last week by the National Center on Accessibility, part of the Department of Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies at IU.

The study, which reviewed surfaces from more than 35 parks in Indiana and Chicago, focused on the play requirements and safety concerns of those with disabilities, according to a press release.

Principal investigator Jennifer Skulski said when playground surfaces lack proper maintenance and upkeep, it can limit children’s access.

“If a surface is installed incorrectly, it can crack and cause changes in the level of the material,” Skulski said. “Those imperfections can make it difficult for a person in a wheelchair or crutches, for example, to enjoy themselves.”

The United States Access Board, a federal agency that enacts facility accessibility guidelines, awarded the National Center on Accessibility $60,000 to complete the study.

The results of the study prompted new safety regulations as soon as the first-year results were published, Skulski said.

“There was no standard instruction guide to the installation of playground surfaces until after our first-year findings were published,” Skulski said. “But, after publication, the International Play Equipment Manufactures Association announced standardized guidelines pertaining to the correct installation of surfaces and equipment.”

The study analyzed seven different playground surfaces. The most common surface used was poured-in-place rubber, followed by engineered wood fiber.

“The mulch people see in playgrounds isn’t actually mulch at all,” Skulski said. “It is actually a processed wood fiber that is designed to form together into a sheet as it is walked over.”

The study determined that the safest playground surface in use today is the hybrid surface. The hybrid system consists of a foam mat covered with either an outdoor carpet or a synthetic turf.

The Sophia Travis playscape, a playground located in the Karst Farm Park across the street from the Monroe County Convention Center, has a hybrid surface, said Kelli Witmer, associate director of the Monroe County Parks and Recreation Department.

“We have seen very good results from the hybrid surface at the Sophia Travis playscape,” Witmer said. “In fact, we have seen such positive results that we have decided to use the hybrid surface in a second park.”

Though the hybrid surface is the most expensive option, Skulski stressed that playground owners can use the study to find safe alternatives within their budget.

“It is kind of like buying a used car,” Skulski said. “You consider all of your options and your budget and then make an informed decision.”

Skulski said she hopes the results of the study are used to encourage playground owners to make informed decisions about their playground surfaces.

“We are here to help facilitate an inclusive environment,” Skulski said. “I want to stress the importance of play, and I hope this study allows more children the opportunity to participate.”

Follow reporter Grayson Harbour on Twitter @GraysonHarbour

YORK – The students at York Elementary School can now swing away at recess thanks to their own efforts and those of the Parents And Teachers Together organization.

PATT is a volunteer group of parents that helps out with various activities during the school year.

“We handle anything from fundraising and book fairs to setting up meals for the teachers who stay late for parent/teacher conferences,” PATT Coordinator Lindsey Eckert said.

Every year, the YES students do a major fundraiser in the fall. They sell things like cookie dough and various gift items.

That money has helped pay for things like the new smart boards that now occupy each of the classrooms at YES.

Last fall, in addition to selling cookie dough, students also gave out pamphlets that sold everything from gift wrap and little knick knacks to chocolates.

They weren’t expecting to raise a whole lot of extra money through that pamphlet but they ended up doubling their normal amount, Eckert said.

In fact, they had enough to buy YES some new playground equipment.

“The items that parents in the PATT group had most often heard requests for were swings,” Eckert said.

So each side of the playground at YES got a brand new set of swings.

However, the PATT group wanted to make sure that every student is able to enjoy the rush of wind and the thrill that comes from swinging through the air.

“We wanted to add some items that were handicap accessible so all of the students can enjoy recess time together,” Eckert said.

The items they chose were an omnispin spinner and an oodle swing.

The omnispin spinner is basically a safer version of the old merry-go-round.

It has high-backed seats that the children can sit in so that when they swing around, they don’t go flying out.

The oodle swing is a safer version of a tire swing and can fit between four and six kids at a time.

Both of them have transfer points for children from a wheelchair to the swing or spinner.

All of the new items have been overwhelmingly popular with the students. Every day at recess or lunch, there are lines for the swings and the spinner. Playground supervisors even have to make time limits so that everyone gets a chance to play on the new things.

The students have several people and businesses in the community who they can thank for getting that new equipment installed in time for them to use it before the end of they year.

The PATT group thought at first that they were going to be able to install the equipment themselves. However, when it looked like it wasn’t going to work out before the end of the school year, several members had the idea to go to businesses in the community for help.

Jensen Lumber donated their time to install the equipment; York Equipment donated the use of their auger; and Mead Lumber donated the use of one of their forklifts to help unload all of the items off the delivery truck.

“Without the support of the community, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Eckert said.

By Rachael Ruybalid Staff Reporter at the New York Times


Posted by in Blog on May 10, 2013
Recapture that childhood sense of fun — and get a dose of fresh air — with our exclusive workout.
Article By: Michele Stanten

When you were a kid, working up a sweat running from the swings to the slide never seemed like work, did it? Happily, swings and slides aren’t just child’s play. You can get a total body-toning workout at your local playground — no gym membership required.

As a full-time working mother of two and certified fitness instructor, I often take advantage of park equipment to sneak in a quick workout while my kids are playing — but you don’t need kids to try most of these moves.

Choose between the casual, kid-friendly All-Play Toners and the more rigorous Playground Circuit, or combine them both for a fun 25-35 minute routine.

All-Play Toners
Swing set warm-up: Hop on, pump your legs, and see how high you can go. You’ll work your abs, legs, and arms, and swinging for 5-10 minutes is great way to warm up. Lean back as much as possible and focus on using your abs to sit up as you come forward.
With kids: push them on the swing with one arm at a time to tone flabby arms.

Slide rules: Climbing the stairs works your legs and glutes. For a greater challenge, take them two at a time, alternating legs. Then slide down and go again. Repeat 8-10 times.
With kids: as they slide down, pick them up and lift them overhead to sculpt sexy shoulders (and make them laugh).

Monkey around: Boost yourself up into a chin-up position (arms bent, palms facing you, and chin above the bar). Then see how long you can hold it—without holding your breath. Repeat 2 more times.
With kids: See who can hang (arms extended) the longest.

The Playground Circuit

Wrong-way Step (tones legs, butt, and hips)
Stand facing the bottom of a slide. Place your right foot on the slide, press into your right foot, and slowly lift yourself up. Tap left toes on slide without putting any weight on that foot, then bend right leg. Lower left foot to ground and then step right foot off slide. Repeat. Do 10-15 times; then repeat with opposite leg. Challenge yourself:Instead of tapping your left toes on the slide, raise your left leg straight behind you as high as possible, squeezing your glutes. Lower left leg as you bend right knee and return to start position.

Monkey Bar Pull-up (tones back, shoulders, and arms)
Find a bar that is about chest height (or two parallel bars that are about shoulder width apart). Place your hands shoulder width apart, palms facing away from you. Walk your feet forward until they’re below the bar. Extend your arms so you’re leaning back and your body is at an angle to the ground. Bend your elbows out to sides and pull your chest toward the bar. Hold for a second. Straighten your arms back to start position and repeat. Keep abs tight and torso and legs in line the entire time. Do 10-15 times.
Challenge yourself: Walk your feet farther forward and repeat. As your body gets closer to the ground the pull-ups become harder.
Swing Knee Lifts (tones abs, back, and legs)
Stand on a swing (a flexible seat will be more challenging) while holding onto the chains and balancing on left foot. Stand tall as you slowly raise your right knee to hip height, pulling your abs in as you lift. Hold for a second. Slowly lower your leg and repeat, keeping the swing and the rest of your body as still as possible. Do 10-15 times; repeat with opposite leg.
Challenge yourself: Keep your leg straight as you raise it as high as possible in front of you. At the same time, press the swing back like you’re scissoring your legs apart.
Park Bench Push-up (tones chest, shoulders, and arms)
Find a bench (or bar) that’s about waist high. Grasp the back of the bench with your hands wider than shoulder width apart and arms extended. Walk your feet back a few steps so your body forms a straight diagonal line to the ground. Bend your elbows out to sides and lower chest toward bench. Hold for a second. Straighten arms and press back up to start position and repeat. Keep abs tight and torso and legs in line the entire time. Do 10-15 times.
Challenge yourself: Walk your feet farther back so you’re more horizontal and repeat. From there, try doing push-ups with your hands on the seat of the bench.

Michele Stanten is the author of Walk Off Weight and Firm Up in 3 Weeks and a member of the board of directors for the American Council on Exercise.

Posted by in Blog on May 10, 2013

Who needs a gym to exercise? A trip to the playground is all it takes for moms to get in better shape.

By Jessica Brown from Parents Magazine


This convenient full-body workout from Tina Vindum, owner of Outdoor Fitness, in Marin County, California, will have you toned up in no time. Your children also benefit, since they’re more likely to be active if they see you break a sweat regularly — especially if it looks like fun. And this is one workout that doesn’t seem like “work” at all!
Swing Crisscross

Targets: Abs

Sit on a swing and hold the chains, then lean back about 45 degrees. Extend your legs straight in front of you with your feet together and toes pointed. Open your legs slightly to form a V, then cross your left calf over your right, contracting your core muscles to keep the swing as still as possible. Return to V position for one count, then cross your right calf over your left to complete the set. Do 12 to 15 sets.

Jungle-Gym Pull-Up

Targets: Back and biceps

Using an underhand grip, grasp a jungle-gym bar that’s 3 to 4 feet high. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and extend your legs in front of you until your chest is under the bar; place your feet hip-width apart. Pull your chest close to the bar by drawing your elbows alongside your ribs. Straighten arms and repeat. Aim to do five pull-ups; work up to 12 to 15.

Slide Lunge

Targets: Butt and thighs

Stand facing away from the slide and rest your left foot on the bottom of it; place your hands on your hips. Bend your right knee until your right thigh is almost parallel to the ground, but don’t let your knee move farther forward than above your toes. Return to starting position by pressing through your right heel. Do 12 to 15 reps, then repeat with the other leg.

Jungle-Gym Standing Push-Up

Targets: Chest, shoulders, and triceps

Stand arm-length away from the jungle gym, with feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on a bar that’s no higher than your chest. Keeping your body straight and your weight on your toes, bend your elbows until your chest nearly touches the bar. Do 12 to 15 push-ups.

Lateral Leg Lift

Targets: Hips, outer thighs, and waist

Stand alongside a step so it’s on your right side and place your right foot on it; rest hands on hips. Press through your right foot to raise yourself up until your right leg straightens as you simultaneously extend your left leg to the side with foot flexed. Do 12 to 15 lifts, then repeat on the other side.

Bench Dip

Targets: Shoulders and triceps

Sit on a bench and grip the edge with your hands shoulder-width apart. Scoot off the bench and extend your legs in front of you, bending your knees slightly. Bend your elbows and lower your butt a few inches toward the ground, keeping your back close to the bench; slowly press back up. Do 12 to 15 reps.
Originally published in Parents magazine.

All content, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others

Posted by in Blog on May 10, 2013

Warm, sunny days are the perfect opportunity to get fit on your city’s dime.

By: Zach Even-Esh

It’s hard to justify training in a dark gym when the sun is shining outside. Especially since you can build muscle just as effectively using your own body weight as you can by lifting some iron. All you really need is something to push on or pull on and a little open space where you can move your body and activate all the muscles you’re used to training indoors. We came up with a plan you can do at your local park (or in the prison yard—hey, we won’t judge) to get you ripped and strong while improving your tan at the same time.

How It Works:

Our program of wide open spaces, plus the equipment that’s generally found around parks and children’s playgrounds. You’ll do pull-ups and dips (a jungle gym will work for these if you don’t have bars) with a descending rep scheme—start at 10 reps and do one less every set down to one rep. This is one method those guys you see working out in parks all the time use to blast out scores of reps at a fast clip. You’ll also do fun body-weight exercises that you probably haven’t tried in years, such as bear crawls and crab walks. Though it may look like you’re playing, you’ll feel these exercises work your whole body, particularly your core, and you’ll tire out fast. In fact, you may find these workouts so tough you’ll be grateful to go back indoors to the iron in the fall.


Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, and 3) once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

How to Do It:

The exercises on Day 1 are performed as a circuit. Complete each set with minimal rest. On Day 2, exercises marked “A” and “B” are done as supersets. Complete one set of A, then one set of B; rest, and repeat until you’ve finished all the prescribed sets. Perform the remaining exercises as straight sets, completing all the sets for that move before going on to the next. If you can’t perform all the given reps for a set, do as many as you can without going to failure, rest as needed, and continue until you finish that number.

Day 1 Exercise 1

Jump Squat

Sets: 10 Reps: 10-1

Stand in an athletic stance with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground and then jump as high as you can. Land with soft knees and repeat. Perform 10 reps, nine, eight, and so on for each successive set until you finish with one rep.

Day 1 Exercise 2


Sets: 10 Reps: 10-1

Hang from a pull-up bar, jungle gym, or tree limb and pull yourself up until your chin is higher than your hands. Perform 10 reps down to one rep as you did for the jump squat. If you can’t perform the prescribed reps, do as many as you can and perform one less on following sets.

Day 1 Exercise 3


Sets: 10 Reps: 10-1

Suspend yourself over parallel bars and then lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Perform 10 reps down to one rep as you have been.

Day 2 Exercise 1a

Bear Crawl

Sets: 3 Reps: Crawl for 50 feet

Bend down and plant your hands on the ground. Try to keep your back flat as you crawl forward like a bear as fast as you can.

Day 2 Exercise 1b

Crab Walk

Sets: 3 Reps: Crawl for 50 feet

Sit on the ground and bridge up with your hips so you look like a table top. Walk forward on your hands and feet as fast as you can.

Day 2 Exercise 2

Parallel Bar Hand Walk

Sets: 5 Reps: Walk to the end and back

Hang from a jungle gym or length of parallel bars. Walk to the end of the row and back with your hands.

Day 2 Exercise 3a

Forward Sprint

Sets: 5 Reps: Sprint 50 Yards

Run at about 90% of your top speed.

Day 2 Exercise 3b

Backward Sprint

Sets: 5 Reps: Sprint 50 Yards

Run at about 90% of your top speed.

Day 3 Exercise 1

Burpee/Broad Jump

Sets: 3 Reps: 10

From a standing position, bend down and touch your hands to the ground. Now shoot your legs out behind you fast so you end up in the top position of a push-up. Perform a push-up and then reverse the motion quickly and come back up. Immediately jump as far forward as you can.

Day 3 Exercise 2

Dip/Leg Raise

Sets: 3 Reps: 10

Perform a dip and then raise your legs straight out in front of you as high as you can.

Day 3 Exercise 3

Pull-up/Knee Raise

Sets: 3 Reps: 10

Perform a pull-up and then raise your knees up as high as you can.

Over time, landscape architects have pushed playground design forward as research has deemed certain aspects of play beneficial to childhood learning.

As public open spaces are diminishing in our rapidly growing cities, architects must make the most of available space to provide a foundation for learning in a safe environment.

“As 89 percent of Australians now live in urban environments, outdoor play for most children will take place in spaces that have been designed,” said Mary Jeavons, director of Jeavons Landscape Architects.

Traditional Pre-1920s Playgrounds

To improve the quality of life for inner-city children, traditional playgrounds often included hardwood pieces such as balance beams, swings and ladders. Traditional playgrounds were designed to serve neighborhood centers so that children from underprivileged families could experience the social standards of the upper-class in an effort to teach “social morality.” It was often a meeting place for mothers who supervised their child’s activities.

Traditional Post-WWI Playgrounds

To give children social experiences, traditional playgrounds after WWI included pre-developed play pieces such as steel climbers, swings, jungle gyms, sandboxes and fencing. Children were provided with materials to create their own play environments.

Junk Playgrounds

Often viewed as unsafe, junk playgrounds emerged after WWI in vacant and abandoned lots. Children used spare construction materials to create, destroy and rebuild customised play spaces.

Adventure Playgrounds

Where traditional playgrounds only offer regulated play in supervised environments focused on social development, adventure playgrounds give children the ability to construct their play experiences. Adventure playgrounds emphasise the use of natural and recycled materials rather than manufactured pieces and have an informal layout. Construction play encourages a variety of physical and social development in children.

Imagination Playgrounds

Imagination playgrounds use many of the ideas found in adventure playgrounds but are mostly made with a mixture of prefabricated materials that can be moved. Both permanent and movable play materials encourage children to use their imagination to create different spaces each time.

Contemporary Playgrounds

By the 1970s, playground safety standards were becoming more stringent. Since that time, rules seem to be continuously tightening. Uniquely designed elements were replaced by manufactured playground elements which met stringent safety regulations. This shift was due to increased demand for children with disabilities to be able to use public playgrounds and playscapes. Contemporary playgrounds typically include plastic and metal play structures such as swings, slides and climbing structures, all with impact-absorbing materials underneath.

The Resurgence of ‘Imagination’ and ‘Adventure’ Playgrounds

A movement back to adventure playgrounds has occurred due to growth in adults’ ability to trust that children know how to play and trust that they will play instinctively if provided with the right tools and environment.

Though extremely popular, there are currently only five adventure playgrounds in Australia. Skinners Adventure Playground in South Melbourne plays an integral role within the local community, catering to disadvantaged children from nearby public housing developments.

A Blend of Playspaces

Innovative landscape design in Australia shows the endless possibilities within playspaces. For children and adults, they are places to meet friends, celebrate, educate and relax. New playscapes are often not isolated from the community, but rather integrated into a wider social network where people of all ages can mingle.

The educational needs of children which come from playspaces needs to be considered by designers to figure out how play zones for children and adults can be included in public spacesbeyond formal playgrounds.

Recent Australian examples of play design show the traditional playground being expanded to incorporate social and environmental functions while connecting with open space networks. Designers predict that playgrounds will move further from the ‘play zone’ to permeate the built environment.

Letting Children Create

Jeavons says it is difficult for landscape architects to leave spaces undesigned, yet that practice allows a child’s mind to flourish.

“This provides some major challenges for our profession: to overcome the temptation to over-design public space; to research and understand the importance of unstructured free play to children (even if this challenges our sense of control); to recognize and advocate for children as legitimate users of outdoor space; and to hold firm against over-sanitizing our parks, open spaces, school grounds and early childhood centres,” she said.

Guidelines for Future Playgrounds

Learning from the gaps in conventional, traditional, imagination and adventure playgrounds, designers can follow suggested guidelines for future playgrounds:

  • Integrate native plants into playscapes to offer opportunities for education about local ecology
  • Provide building materials that are movable and changeable to let children create new experiences
  • Use natural elements in a controlled fashion. Ponds, creeks, rocks, earth and wildlife give children the chance to experience how seasons and weather affect those elements
  • Encourage different levels of physical activity with a variety of play equipment
  • Provide opportunities for different types of play: construction play to learn creativity and problem solving, functional play for basic skill development such as running and climbing, and symbolic play to encourage role playing
  • The playground should reflect local values, needs and ideas
  • Design a variety of spaces for children of all ages; younger children need semi-enclosed spaces to play in small groups while older children prefer larger open spaces
  • Create a microcosm of nature within the playground to encourage children to relate learning small facts to larger abstract ideas
  • Allow children to create their own playscape without guidance and allow them to have control over it
  • Create naturally occurring shelter such as bushes or small enclosures for children to seek refuge or rest.

Recent research shows that children need unstructured free play. Public play equipment is certainly an excellent educational tool, but there also must be elements that are undesigned and natural such as a tree they can climb, some leaves that can be collected, branches that can be used to make a fort or a big rock that can be their island of refuge. A mix of both designed and undesigned elements in a safe environment results in a safe haven for childhood education.

By: Kristen Avis

Author and clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison writes, “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” It is through unstructured, open-ended creative play that children learn the ways of the world. While playing outside, children explore with all their senses, they witness new life, they create imaginary worlds and they negotiate with each other to create a playful environment.

  1. Outdoor play is a multi-sensory activity.While outdoors, children will see, hear, smell and touch things unavailable to them when they play inside. They use their brains in unique ways as they come to understand these new stimuli.
  2. Playing outside brings together informal play and formal learning. Children can incorporate concepts they have learned at school in a hands-on way while outdoors. For example, seeing and touching the roots of a tree will bring to life the lesson their teacher taught about how plants get their nutrients.
  3. Playing outdoors stimulates creativity. Robin Moore, an expert in the design of play and learning environments, says, “Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imagination and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity.” Rocks, stones and dirt present limitless opportunities for play that can be expressed differently every time a child steps outside.
  4. Playing outdoors is open-ended. There is no instruction manual for outdoor play. Children make the rules and in doing so use their imagination, creativity, intelligence and negotiation skills in a unique way.
  5. Playing in nature reduces anxiety. Time spent outside physiologically reduces anxiety. Children bring an open mind and a more relaxed outlook back inside when they are in more traditional learning environments.
  6. Outdoor play increases attention span. Time spent in unstructured play outdoors is a natural attention builder. Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks or sitting still for long periods of times are significantly more successful after time spent outside.
  7. Outdoor play is imaginative. Because there are no labels, no pre-conceived ideas and no rules, children must create the world around them. In this type of play, children use their imagination in ways they don’t when playing inside.
  8. Being in nature develops respect for other living things. Children develop empathy, the ability to consider other people’s feeling, by interacting with creatures in nature. Watching a tiny bug, a blue bird or a squirrel scurrying up a tree gives children the ability to learn and grow from others.
  9. Outdoor play promotes problem solving. As children navigate a world in which they make the rules, they must learn to understand what works and what doesn’t, what lines of thinking bring success and failure, how to know when to keep trying and when to stop.
  10. Playing outside promotes leadership skills. In an environment where children create the fun, natural leaders will arise. One child may excel at explaining how to play the game, while another may enjoy setting up the physical challenge of an outdoor obstacle course. All types of leadership skills are needed and encouraged.
  11. Outdoor play widens vocabulary. While playing outdoors, children may see an acorn, a chipmunk and cumulous clouds. As they encounter new things, their vocabulary will expand in ways it never could indoors.
  12. Playing outside improves listening skills. As children negotiate the rules of an invented game, they must listen closely to one another, ask questions for clarification and attend to the details of explanations in ways they don’t have to when playing familiar games.
  13. Being in nature improves communication skills. Unclear about the rules in an invented game? Not sure how to climb the tree or create the fairy house? Children must learn to question and clarify for understanding while simultaneously making themselves understood.
  14. Outdoor play encourages cooperative play. In a setting where there aren’t clear winners and losers, children work together to meet a goal. Perhaps they complete a self-made obstacle course or create a house for a chipmunk. Together they compromise and work together to meet a desired outcome.
  15. Time in nature helps children to notice patterns. The natural world is full of patterns. The petals on flowers, the veins of a leaf, the bark on a tree are all patterns. Pattern building is a crucial early math skill.
  16. Playing outdoors helps children to notice similarities and differences. The ability to sort items and notice the similarities and differences in them is yet another skill crucial to mathematical success. Time outdoors affords many opportunities for sorting.
  17. Time spent outdoors improves children’s immune systems. Healthy children are stronger learners. As children spend more and more time outdoors, their immune systems improve, decreasing time out of school for illness.
  18. Outdoor play increases children’s physical activity level. Children who play outdoors are less likely to be obese and more likely to be active learners. Children who move and play when out of school are ready for the attention often needed for classroom learning.
  19. Time spent outdoors increases persistence. Outdoor games often require persistence. Children must try and try again if their experiment fails. If the branch doesn’t reach all the way across the stream or the bark doesn’t cover their fairy house, they must keep trying until they are successful.
  20. Outdoor play is fun. Children who are happy are successful learners. Children are naturally happy when they are moving, playing and creating outside. This joy opens them up for experimenting, learning and growing.



  – Stacey Loscalzo is a freelance writer and mother of two girls living in Ridgewood, NJ. She and her girls have been getting outside to play for nearly a decade.

As winter fades to spring and spring turns to summer it is the time of year that children look at the greening grass and think: monkey bars, merry go rounds, swings and slides. The playground is a wonderful place for children to exercise, socialize, work on their balance and muscle memory and, oh yes, get hurt. Let me first say that of all of the things I just listed, the getting hurt part is something parents should be concerned about, watchful to try and prevent, but accidents do happen and the positive effects of play and exercise far out way the dangers lurking in the playground.

Some of the more common injuries on the playground are fractures or broken bones. But one of the best parts of being a child or young adolescent is that many of the fractures that would require surgery in adults can be realigned or set and placed in a cast or splint (a partial cast that allows for the injured limb to swell without concerns of cutting off the circulation) and will heal in children. Healing is only part of the solution however. One reason that adults require more surgery is that if the bones are not in good alignment then it can lead to long-term functional problems. For instance if you break your forearm as an adult and it is even a few degrees from being perfectly aligned it can limit the movement of the elbow and wrist and lead to problems. The reason for this is even though the older bone in adults is continuously being turned over and changed into new bone we are no longer growing, so the broken bone has limited potential to reshape itself. In children however they continue to grow and as the normal remodeling process occurs they are also growing so it allows them to straighten their bones and correct any misalignment after their fracture. For instance the forearm fracture in adults has to have normal alignment for us to treat it in a cast (and even then it is probably better to treat it with surgery) but in children we can sometimes accept up to 15 degrees of misalignment and they will not only heal but will straighten the bone over time and x-rays years later may show no sign of ever having a fracture.

The most common fractures in children occur in the forearm and wrist. About 50 percent of all fractures in children involve these two areas with three out of four of those fractures occurring at the wrist. Typically these injuries occur from a fall when a child tries to catch themselves with their arm outstretched.

The simplest of these fractures is called a Taurus fracture or buckle fracture. What occurs during these injuries is the bone doesn’t actually break all off the way through instead it bends on one side and buckles on the other. This occurs because in young bone the bone is much more rubbery than adult bone so it is able to bend before it breaks.

Another fracture of the forearm is called a green-stick fracture, which similar to a buckle fracture the bone doesn’t break all of the way through. Like the name implies and you can probably imagine if you were to go outside right now and take a green branch off of the tree and try and break it over your knee you are unlikely to be successful. And if you look at the stick you will find that the side of the branch closest to your knee bent around your knee but didn’t break but the side opposite this did break partially through. These fractures can sometimes be problematic because if they bend a lot but do not break completely we have to take the child to the operating room and complete the fracture so that we can realign it. But wait, you just said kids can realign their bones as they grow. Although this is true if the fracture is complete in green-stick fractures were it is mostly a bend the bone doesn’t realize it is broken and tends to keep the same shape and has less chance to remodel and return to its normal shape.

Fractures that break completely through the bone sometimes still do not need to be reset, especially those at the wrist. This is because most of the growth that occurs in the radius, which is the bigger bone of your forearm at the wrist, allows for an enormous amount of potential to remodel. This allows for even more leeway in how much angulation we can accept before we need to reset the fracture. Nonetheless some wrist fractures and a fair number of forearm fractures do need to be reset before being casted. But for the most part as long as we can get them in good alignment the long term consequences are small.

One particular fracture that can be a little more problematic however is the wrist fracture that goes through the growth plate. The major issue here is that if the growth plate is injured it can stop growing and lead to “growth arrest” which depending on the child’s age may or may not be a major issue. Sometimes if these fractures do not realign easily it is best to take the child to surgery to ensure that the growth plate is not repeatedly injured predisposing it to growth arrest. Typically the surgery requires realigning the bone under x-ray guidance and holding it temporarily with pins that can be removed 4-6 weeks later as well as a cast.

Although there are potential dangers lurking in the playground, the benefits of play far outweigh the risks. Statistically it will probably happen: 75 percent of boys will break at least one bone, 50 percent two and 25 percent three. Girls have about a 50 percent chance of breaking at least one bone before they reach adulthood. So be aware and watchful, but if it happens remember accidents do happen and it probably was nobody’s fault – which is sometimes hard for parents to keep in mind when their child is hurt. Remember that kids are able to heal in ways that make the long-term consequences of broken bones much less concerning than in adults.


By JEREMIAH CLINTON, MD – Bitterroot Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

LINCOLN PARK — Mistie Lucht’s children have probably been to more parks over the past two years than all of their classmates combined.

For Lucht, a day to the park doesn’t mean just one. She typically will knock out between nine and 12 parks to gather field notes for her ever growing database of more than 700.

About two years ago, she teamed up with a friend of a friend, who happened to enjoy developing web applications on the side, to create an iPhone app called Playground Pointers. The app is aimed at parents and caregivers whose kids might have grown sick of the neighborhood swings.

“We would literally explore and talk to other moms and say ‘Where would you go to play?’” Lucht said. “I would take notes on my phone for where to go. I just started going to playgrounds.”

When Lucht was pregnant with her third child, who is now about a year old, she began her journey with the Lincoln Park parks, visiting such spots as Oz Park, Adams Playground and Jonquil Playlot. That quest has now moved on to the ring of the Chicago suburbs, but could eventually spread nationwide with the help of user-generated reviews, according to developer Chris Cooper.

Lucht has become an expert on parks, and each listing in the app contains photos, a cleanliness rating, information about parking, picnic areas, how many swings, tire swings and slides each park has, the type of surface and if there are any sports courts available.

“When someone says, ‘I have an 8-year-old boy. Where should I go?’ I can easily rattle off the best one in their area,” she said.

Lucht also writes personal notes for each park. In a note for her favorite park in the city, Mary Bartleme Playground in the West Loop, she noted the park is not shaded and can get “very hot,” but “the climbing is something I have not seen anywhere else” in the city.

The most useful aspect of the app is the security it can give parents who are willing to make the trek to an unfamiliar city neighborhood to check out a park and make a day of it.

“It’s either a delightful surprise or like ehhh. … I’m not afraid to say that,” Lucht said. “Some city parks, even the nicest, newest ones, are plagued by litter and graffiti and broken swings.”

The app also lists the “perfect playground days,” with family friendly restaurants and museums nearby for goers who might not be familiar with a surrounding area. In all, there are some 3,500 photos.

Playground Pointers, which costs $1.99, has been available in the iTunes App Store since May 2012, and so far about 2,000 people have downloaded it. Cooper and Lucht hope to make a major push this spring with an updated version of the app that includes hundreds more parks than were available last summer.

“Whenever I talk to friends who live in the city who have kids, they get excited about the idea. They want to see [the app] and they go out and buy it,” Cooper said. “It’s definitely got a lot more information than you are going to find on the Chicago Park District site.”

Cooper has four kids of his own and said he hopes the app lets parents recreate memories that they once had as children of visiting playgrounds.

“I remember when I was a kid, my mother would put my brother and myself in the car and say lets find a playground,” he said. “We would get out and play for a few hours, get back in the car and find another.”
By Paul Biasco,

Children and teens should be more active in PE, the classroom and after-school programs.

Despite years of prodding from their parents, teachers and doctors, kids and teens still aren’t doing nearly enough physical activity, and changes need to be made in schools to help kids step it up, says a report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A recent government survey found that only 29% of high school students participated in 60 or more minutes a day of physical activity on each of the seven days prior to the survey. That’s the amount recommended for kids and teens by the government’s physical activity guidelines. Boys (38%) were more likely than girls (19%) to meet the guidelines.

“Dramatic action needs to be taken to increase physical activity in American kids,” says Russell Pate, a member of the committee for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, which produced the new report. He’s a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina.

Schools are the best place to start because kids are there for six to seven hours a day, he says. “Kids love to move when they are exposed to creative, well-designed programs during physical education, class exercise breaks, recess and before- and after-school programs.

“We have to use all the opportunities during the school day to increase kids’ physical activity.”

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, chair of the committee that did the report and president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says, “The evidence shows that being physically active can help kids get and stay fit and perform better at their schoolwork.”

In 2008, the government released physical activity guidelines for Americans, which recommended that kids and teens should do an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous aerobic physical activity each day. The adult guidelines recommend that they get at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours (75 minutes) of a vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types, to get the most health benefits from exercise. This activity should be done in at least 10-minute bouts.

Now, five years after the release of those guidelines, the expert committee concluded that the recommendations still offer people solid exercise advice based on the latest research. But the group identified strategies to increase physical activity, especially among children. Among the suggestions:

– Get kids moving more in schools. Offer students “enhanced physical education” — that is, increased lesson time from well-trained specialists and instructional practices that provide a lot of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Also offer classroom activity breaks, activity sessions before and/or after school, and opportunities to walk and bike to school.

– Give preschool children lots of opportunities to be active. Increase the time they spend outside, give them play equipment such as balls and tricycles, provide trained staff to lead physical activities and increase the time kids get to do these kinds of things.

– Change the built environment. Improve walking and biking infrastructure, such as sidewalks, multiuse trails and bike lanes. Increase access and proximity to parks.

Kathleen Janz, also a committee member and a professor of health and human physiology at the University of Iowa, says, “Parents need to stand up and be part of this solution.

“Ultimately, parents have a lot of power to increase their kids’ activity by taking them places to be active, buying them pieces of sports equipment, encouraging them and playing with them. And those are things that don’t cost all that much money.”

Current research suggests that the best way to raise an active child is to be activewith your child by playing tag, going on family walks, raking leaves, gardening together and even playing badminton or other sports where everyone succeeds, Janz says.

The Government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans say:

– Children and adolescents should do an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous aerobic physical activity each day. That should include vigorous activity at least three days a week. And it should include bone-strengthening activities such as running, jumping rope, skipping, playing soccer and playing tag at least three days a week and muscle-strengthening activities such as tug of war, sit-ups, pull-ups and push-ups (modified for younger kids) at least three days a week. It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable and that offer variety.

– Adults should get at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types, to get the most health benefits from exercise. These aerobic activities should be done in at least 10-minute bouts.

– To get even more health benefits, people should do five hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week or 2½ hours of vigorous activity.

– Adults should do muscle-strengthening (resistance) activities at a moderate- or high-intensity level for all major muscle groups two or more days a week. This should include exercises for the chest, back, shoulders, upper legs, hips, abdomen and lower legs. The exercises can be done with free weights or machines, resistance bands, calisthenics that use body weight for resistance (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups), or carrying heavy loads or doing heavy gardening such as digging or hoeing.

– Older Americans should follow the guidelines for other adults if they are able. If not, they should be as active as their physical condition allows. If they are at risk of falling, they should do exercises that improve balance.

– Adults with disabilities should also follow the guidelines for other adults if they are able.

(Photo: Hans Pennink, AP)

Posted by in Blog on March 18, 2013

From | by Dream Hampton

It’s no secret that obesity and childhood obesity is a problem in America, and Ebony contributor dream hampton writes how she and a group of mothers through the organization are trying to transform America’s nutritional future.

In his partly autobiographical documentary, Soul Food Junkies, Byron Hurt investigates African-Americans’ attachment to food traditions, and challenges his audience to take a closer look at those relationships. He returns to his own father’s death, made premature by what he speculates was overeating brought on by deep depression.

Junkies isn’t all blues. Hurt offers a sometimes hilarious look at our affinity to foods like fried chicken, fat-flavored collard greens, and fried pork chops despite the knowledge that these foods increase risks for diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, stokes, heart disease and obesity.

What’s no laughing matter are the alarming statistics that predict that this generation of young people can expect to die sooner than their parents. African-American children suffer from obesity at a greater rate than white children. There are many complex factors that contribute to this epidemic. But one factor, junk foods sold in schools, is being tackled by parents nationwide. The USDA recently issued proposed nutritional guidelines on food sold in vending machines and à la carte lines. And a study by Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project, a joint project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that parents nationwide broadly support the creation of strong guidelines.

The organization I work with,, is committed to food justice for our children and families. We believe in mothers uniting to take back control of our kids’ nutrition and of our family health. We believe that together we can break down the structural barriers that are keeping everyone from having access to healthy foods. Mothers voices together can have an incredible impact on everything from making sure healthier foods are served and available in schools, to making sure vending machines have nutritious options, to passing laws to support childhood nutrition, as well as to limiting the junk food marketing that’s aimed at our children.

from | by Sasha Brown-Worsham

One of the funniest things one sees at the park is all the new moms who are so anxious to get out of the house that they are there stuffing 2-month-old babies into the baby swings and pushing them ever so slightly. The reality is, as parents, we are ALWAYS so excited for our kids to get to that next level. We want them to climb high, reach the top, slide fast, and do those monkey bars ASAP.

The reality is, though, playgrounds aren’t all made equally. Ask any mom who has followed her 2-year-old around equipment made for 8-year-olds with clenched fists and you will know. There is a reason many playgrounds have structures for the little ones and different ones for the bigger ones.

It’s not always easy to tell when a child is ready for the bigger equipment, but here are six pieces of equipment, each with signs you can look at in your child to assess his or her readiness. See below:

  1. Slide: It’s probably best to try to wait until your baby is about 18 to 24 months old before using this park favorite by himself. Before that, of course, slide with your baby or hold him as he slides, but until about 18 months or so, babies don’t have the balance or core strength to keep themselves upright on the way down the slide and they can bang their heads or worse on the way down.
  2. Climbing equipment: This all depends on the age of the child. A small child under 3 can maybe do the climbing, but mom or dad should spot him. To me, this is just a feeling. I still spot my 4.5-year-old, but generally give my 6-year-old more freedom.
  3. Baby swing: Your baby isn’t really ready for a swing until she can hold her head up and sit up herself. Having seen many parents putting babies in these swings way before this, this is a big one.
  4. Big kid swing: Big kid swings require stability, balance, and coordination. Most children should remain in the bucket swing until they are 3 or older. Those who can graduate should have all three of those aforementioned skills. And if they are too scared, let them swing in the “baby” swing! My son does sometimes and he is almost 5!
  5. Sand box: With this you really need to wait until your baby is out of the eating everything stage. This comes at different ages, but you will know.
  6. Ready for the monkey bars: Some might make the argument that monkey bars are NEVER safe. But as a veteran of the old bars myself, I’d say this is definitely an older one. Even my 6-year-old doesn’t do them without supervision and a soft surface beneath her! That would be the earliest kids should be doing them alone.

From | By Richard Howard, News Editor

Child independence is increasingly becoming a forgotten freedom, warn Love Outdoor Play campaigners.

Responding to research published by the University of Westminster, the campaign wants to see the steady decline of children’s independence over the last 40 years become a more prominent issue, calling upon local authorities in particular as the key players in producing more accessible outdoor spaces.

Comparing data gathered from 1971, 1990 and 2010, the university’s Policy Studies Institute (PSI) found that only 25 per cent of children are now allowed by their parents to travel home from school alone – a figure that stood at 86 per cent in 1971.

PSI research fellow Ben Watson believes the results prove that UK children have a disadvantaged upbringing, compared to those from other Western countries, as a result of this trend.

He comments: “Independent mobility has been shown to be good for children’s well-being and development, yet our research shows it has dropped significantly in the last four decades. The experience from Germany shows that this drop is not an inevitable result of modern life. If we care about the future health of our children, action should be taken to enable them to regain the right to a safe outdoor environment without the need for adult supervision.”

The Love Outdoor Play campaign wants to see immediate action from local authorities, challenging councils to find more play spaces by 2014 and seeing the loss of independence as impacting negatively on physical health due to a lack of leisure and recreational activities.

Cath Prisk, director of Play England, who launched the campaign, comments: “This study confirms our own research that there are more barriers to playing out and travelling independently for children today than for previous generations.

“Parents who want to buck this worrying trend should think about giving their kids the gift of independence at home, on the doorstep, in their neighbourhood and further afield. Play England wants to see communities take control of their own neighbourhoods to ensure that children can play out like they used to. If we want our children and young people to have independence, resilience and everyday adventures they need to start young – it is everyone’s responsibility to make this happen.”

Although the challenge is set out for local authorities and communities, early years providers themselves can get children off to a good start by pursuing a curriculum that targets the benefits of outdoor play and learning.

Such initiatives were the motivation for settings like that of Berkhampstead Day Nursery, in Cheltenham, which opened in April last year in premises chosen specifically for the benefits of outdoor access. Marketing head Angela Cross comments: “Being outside is a real priority for us, we know the benefits that all children gain from fresh air, so from the very youngest age, we make sure that there’s opportunity to get outdoors each day – wellies or suncream being applied as needed.”

She continues: “A real priority for us has been to develop the outdoor space and to establish a Forest School area. Logs and tree trunks are currently being moved into place – the grass is wild – staff and children are raring to go and discover the delights of grubs and bugs, campfires and confidence-building activities. Part of Berkhampstead School, where a ‘can-do’ attitude is key, our little ones are starting young and honing their skills in the outdoor environment, doing real things, learning and getting dirty while they are about it!”

Beyond the Walls Outdoor Nursery children, Tockholes, Lancashire

The childcare sector is also seeing the first completely outdoor nurseries opened in recent years, based on similar models in Germany and Scandinavia. Only a handful exist so far, however, one of which is Beyond the Walls Outdoor Nursery, in Lancashire, where children spend all their time immersed in woodland-based activities rather than incorporating computers and plastic toys.

Lead practitioner Naomi Suggett describes some of the activities: “We set up camp and explain the boundaries to the children. We have an ocarina, a flute-like instrument, so if the children are playing hide and seek for example, they will know to come if we use the ocarina as we want the children to have a bit of freedom. We do have a whistle to blow if we think there is any danger.

“There are rope swings, trees to climb and streams where they can go fishing with nets. We do have activities for them to do but mostly we like them to lead their own play and use their imagination. They will do things like sit on a branch and pretend it’s a motorbike.

“Through the changing of the seasons we embrace each new challenge with a determination to fully and wholeheartedly take advantage of all that nature provides; in spring, the fascination of a spider web wet with dew, sun breaking through the canopy of the trees in summer, the crunch of fallen golden autumnal leaves and the enchanting beauty of a cold crisp winter’s day, hunting for hidden treasure.”

Sustrans is another campaigning group that want to see more community freedom for children, with plans to launch a ‘Free Range Kids’ campaign once the movement has enough support from MPs.

Chief executive Malcolm Shepherd sees restoring parents’ faith in their communities as the crucial factor, saying: “It’s a tragedy that so many of our children are failing to meet recommended physical activity levels but little wonder when parents don’t feel that their local streets are safe.

“We urgently need to make our communities safer if we’re to get kids active by walking and cycling to school and playing outdoors. Parents want to see safer streets – the Government must change the standard speed limit to 20mph on the streets where we live, work and play.”

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, agrees, saying: “We know that children aren’t getting active enough. This can directly affect their health – increasing their risk of developing long term conditions such as cardiovascular disease. “It should be as easy as possible for everyone to get active as part of their everyday life. Walking or cycling to school is a simple way for children to fit activity into their daily lives.

“But for people to feel confident to do this, we need towns and cities which encourage people to have an active lifestyle. Steps like reducing the speed limit in residential areas are one of the ways we can help create environments which inspire people to be more active.”

The issue of child access to outdoor play was even raised by a recent United Nations Committee. After observing that very few national reports on the Rights of the Child focused on physical activity, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child called upon member governments to, “respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.”

Health minister at the Welsh Assembly, Lesley Griffiths, is eager to see Wales play its part in bucking this trend and also puts pressure on local councils to recognise the need for prioritising this issue.

The minister comments: “The right for children to experience the freedom and enjoyment of play and recreational activities is of paramount importance to the Welsh Government. Recently we commenced the duty on our local authorities to assess the sufficiency of play opportunities in their local area. This is the first step in ensuring we have places which are safe and freely available for children to play both now and in years to come.”

Mike Greenaway, director of Play Wales, is delighted to see this Government commitment though feels that Wales is already setting an example on children’s rights.

He comments: “Wales is already taking a lead by legislating for children’s rights through the Rights of Children and Young Person’s (Wales) Measure 2011 which places a duty on Welsh Ministers to consider the rights of children when making policy and legislation decisions.”

Conwy County Borough Council is one authority which has sought to address this gap in the lives of modern children, implementing a ‘Play Strategy’ aimed specifically at breaking down these barriers to child freedom.

Council leader and Conwy’s lead member for children, Dilwyn Roberts, describes some of the work undertaken.

He says: “The Playing Out project targets thirty communities across the county borough with a team of playworkers who operate from parks and open spaces to encourage children to make use of the outdoor environment for play.

“The playworkers have a van full of (mostly scrap) resources, so that children can build and create their own games, dens and rope swings. Mess and mud is the order of the day as children follow their own ideas for their own reasons. They are supported by the playworkers who are on hand to help if needed but are trained not to take an overly directive role so that play can continue unhindered by adults.

“Very often our playworkers find themselves talking to other adults in the community and helping to address one of the other barriers to play; adult attitudes. We have found that a little bit of misty-eyed reminiscing of childhood ‘mischief’ is often enough to remind adults that children playing outside in their community is a good thing in a world where, all too often, the young generation are demonised.”

Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus at the PSI, laments the fact that so few similar drives can be found throughout the UK, saying: “It is highly regrettable that so little attention has been paid to the damage caused by this erosion of children’s freedoms and decline in their quality of life. Far more effort needs to be invested in reversing the process that has had such an unfortunate outcome.”

Posted by in Blog on March 11, 2013

Today Dynamo Playgrounds is introducing our newest Biggo Swing:  the Biggo Spia

As the newest addition to our revolutionary line of multi-user swings, this innovative swing will ensure a new flight of interactive play for users of all abilities.

Users can sit, stand or lie down while swaying the large, hammock-like dish back and forth through its parabolic arc. Unlike a traditional swing, this unique motion cradles the riders within the dish, providing a safe yet exhilarating experience.

Built with play value in mind, 1 to 4 users at a time can enjoy this ride that helps develop balance and equilibrium and promotes physical and social activity.

Posted by in Blog on March 8, 2013

From CNNMoney | By Jill Allyn Peterson, contributor

FORTUNE — Artist/philosopher team Claudia Moseley and Edward Shuster, who met in a tree-house protest site in the English countryside a few years ago, are taking an idea that began as a community project and branching it out to create a first-of-its-kind pop-up city in a major London city park for Summer 2013. Called The Invisible City, this architectural experiment aims to bring the cultural life of the city — including art installations, performances, lectures, music, food, drinks, and plain old hanging out — to London’s leafier quarters. With top-secret big name musical acts in the lineup, major NGO partners involved and Helena Bonham-Carter and Tim Burton on board as patrons, you might be picturing a festival. They’re hoping it launches a new way of life.

According to Moseley and Shuster, festivals often end up recreating a city environment, but their goal with Invisible City is to do something else entirely, to create a new kind of space for interaction within the city. A conceptual Matryoshka doll of culture-within-nature-within-culture, their vision will be expressed not in the standardized shipping container format that has become synonymous with pop-ups the world over, but in wildly original structures built around trees which are made with sustainably sourced laser cut plywood, recycled rubber flooring and steel – all of which can be packed up and shipped. Think mobile, flat-pack treehouses from the future, filled with food, drinks, art, ideas and music, and coming soon to a city park near you.

While much planning is going into the tightly curated launch (they are currently selecting a group of partners, sponsors, exhibitors and performers), the intended long-term purpose is to open this set of structures for the community to take over and use as a new social space. Included in the Invisible City are an amphitheater, an exhibition space, a set of three dining pods, and a smaller set of teardrop-shaped pods that give a new meaning to hanging out. After the London launch, the team have their sights set on New York City and other cities around the world.

The Invisible City raises great questions about design for public space and even suggests a direction in which the zeitgeist of the Occupy movement might evolve. They answer a few about their project here:

You first met in a community of arboreal protest, where the notion of Invisible Structures and The Invisible City began. Can you describe how what sounds like a quite radical and rural experience has inspired the more urban incarnation?
In our experience, these protest sites are successful when they are self-empowering and humbling at the same time; when they encourage independent learning in a space that celebrates both common ground and individuality.

We came to the idea of creating an environment in an urban setting with the belief that this environment could radically improve the quality of people’s lives, by opening up the possibility of social and cultural interaction on the threshold of nature. We became quite obsessed with this idea of Invisible Structures – these natural patterns and correspondences that could inform design, social networks and material spaces and be totally inclusive.

By dropping cultural activities into this environment we wanted to encourage people to see their lives, the future, the city as an idea that they can positively participate in the writing of.

Has the Occupy Wall Street movement had any affect on your thinking about this project, such as how dynamics of public space can change?
We are inspired by the zeitgeist idea that people are passionate about reclaiming public space and making a stand against social injustices, and this helped us to clarify what we wanted to achieve – small scale structures where the individual is in direct contact with the environment; introducing into the culture a dynamic mix of content from individuals, producers and artists. It’s a school of perception where people can create the future. We want people to engage with this project not thinking that they will be buying an experience, but that they will have their eyes widened and ears perked up.


As an artist/philosopher team, how do you plan to bring your concepts to life? Are the final designs very literal translations of the sketching that comes out of your creative process?
We have worked with a number of people to get the structures to the stage they are at now. It has been a very collaborative and organic creative process. Jerry Tate Architects have been very important to this process. He has a very collaborative approach himself – it has been very organic.

You mentioned that there are some top-secret big-name acts in the works. Are there any you can talk about at this time to give a sense of what might go on? 
We can’t announce artists or collaborators just yet as we are finalising deals over the next few months. But we are very pleased that the scheme has attracted some really big names across different art forms – people seem to be very excited about the opportunity to perform in such a unique, intimate and natural setting.

In your quest for funding, is corporate sponsorship something you’d welcome? What’s the best way for people to get in touch who want to be involved?
We would welcome sponsorship and would invite sponsors, partners and potential participants to get in contact.

by Susie Steiner • From The Guardian on January 28, 2013


Most mornings, my six-year-old comes down the stairs with his hair sticking up and armfuls of “equipment” for whatever intense project he has in his mind. This morning, it was to build a home for his Hexbug – a little robotic beetle he had recently acquired. The home must have ramps and doors and rooms of cardboard and be decorated with bug pictures. Cereal and toast are ignored, as are his freezing bare feet on the kitchen floorboards. Once he has a project – and he always has a project – it is almost impossible to divert him from it.

His playing is not filled with carefree laughter: it is a rather grim and serious business, and woe betide the adult who gets in his way. To watch him, you would realise that playing is his job – his important work. And yet stop him we must, because of the demands of his schooling.

This morning, I am supposed to take his Hexbug plans away and drill into him the spelling of “height”. How do you explain to a six-year-old why there is an “e” in height?

At six years of age, he has the following weekly homework: he must practise his reading for 15 minutes a day, learn to spell five new words for a weekly spelling test (“light” and “height” among them), fill in a sheet to do with telling the time, and another to show he understands the basics of punctuation.

He is six. SIX. All he wants to do is make a house for his Hexbug, with ramps and doors and rooms.

My son is at a good London primary school – a school that is coming under mounting pressure from SATs league tables, Ofsted reports (it has an “outstanding” Ofsted rating, which it is unlikely to replicate in the current austere climate) and pressure, too, from the helicopter parents who eye these results hawkishly. It is easier to measure his ability to spell “height” than to gauge his emotional health and its connection to his ability to play freely and to see where that playing takes him.

It frightens me that he is being trammelled at such a young age. It frightens me that we are drilling out of our children the creativity that represents their best chance of leading a fulfilling life.

Take a look at the nearest creative writing school and you will find legions of adults fighting to get back to the creative freedoms of childhood and playing, the free-associating of an unfettered imagination. If you can’t play, you’ll never be able to write, compose, imagine, sculpt or sketch. And yet I have never seen less emphasis on playing in the education of small children.

The urge my son has, to project himself into his Hexbug and his game – to allow this “not-self” to engage in an imaginary world, which he can then control – is essential for his development. More, I would argue, than his ability age six to spell “height” correctly, though no doubt Michael Gove would disagree.

Donald Winnicott, the paediatrician and psychoanalyst, wrote in Playing and Reality: “It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”

We need more Winnicott and fewer league tables, to encourage teachers to engage with primary school age children and their crazy world of playing – to appreciate it and to build on it.

Posted by in Blog on March 4, 2013

Dynamo’s newest member of the Biggo Swing family. The Biggo Spia uses a minimal frame, but offers all the same benefits that made its revolutionary design a world leader: universal access; appealing to all ages; multi-user; and the safest swing we have.

From The Guardian | by Susie Steiner

Most mornings, my six-year-old comes down the stairs with his hair sticking up and armfuls of “equipment” for whatever intense project he has in his mind. This morning, it was to build a home for his Hexbug – a little robotic beetle he had recently acquired. The home must have ramps and doors and rooms of cardboard and be decorated with bug pictures. Cereal and toast are ignored, as are his freezing bare feet on the kitchen floorboards. Once he has a project – and he always has a project – it is almost impossible to divert him from it.

His playing is not filled with carefree laughter: it is a rather grim and serious business, and woe betide the adult who gets in his way. To watch him, you would realise that playing is his job – his important work. And yet stop him we must, because of the demands of his schooling.

This morning, I am supposed to take his Hexbug plans away and drill into him the spelling of “height”. How do you explain to a six-year-old why there is an “e” in height?

At six years of age, he has the following weekly homework: he must practise his reading for 15 minutes a day, learn to spell five new words for a weekly spelling test (“light” and “height” among them), fill in a sheet to do with telling the time, and another to show he understands the basics of punctuation.

He is six. SIX. All he wants to do is make a house for his Hexbug, with ramps and doors and rooms.

My son is at a good London primary school – a school that is coming under mounting pressure from SATs league tables, Ofsted reports (it has an “outstanding” Ofsted rating, which it is unlikely to replicate in the current austere climate) and pressure, too, from the helicopter parents who eye these results hawkishly. It is easier to measure his ability to spell “height” than to gauge his emotional health and its connection to his ability to play freely and to see where that playing takes him.

It frightens me that he is being trammelled at such a young age. It frightens me that we are drilling out of our children the creativity that represents their best chance of leading a fulfilling life.

Take a look at the nearest creative writing school and you will find legions of adults fighting to get back to the creative freedoms of childhood and playing, the free-associating of an unfettered imagination. If you can’t play, you’ll never be able to write, compose, imagine, sculpt or sketch. And yet I have never seen less emphasis on playing in the education of small children.

The urge my son has, to project himself into his Hexbug and his game – to allow this “not-self” to engage in an imaginary world, which he can then control – is essential for his development. More, I would argue, than his ability age six to spell “height” correctly, though no doubt Michael Gove would disagree.

Donald Winnicott, the paediatrician and psychoanalyst, wrote in Playing and Reality: “It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”

We need more Winnicott and fewer league tables, to encourage teachers to engage with primary school age children and their crazy world of playing – to appreciate it and to build on it.

Posted by in Blog on February 27, 2013

In 1888, the psychologist Stanley Hall published a story about a sand pile. A minor classic, it describes how a group of children created a world out of a single load of sand. These children were diligent, they were imaginative, they were remarkably adult.

More than a century later, at the architect David Rockwell’s Imagination Playground in lower Manhattan, small humans scurry back and forth all day long, carrying Rockwell’s oversized blue foam blocks from self-devised task to self-devised task. These children are intent, they are cooperative, they are resourceful. The scene resembles nothing so much as Stanley Hall’s sand pile—with each grain of sand much bigger and much bluer. (Except for the bits of actual sand, that is.)

More than any playground in recent memory, the Imagination Playground has inspired an outburst of excitement. It’s a hit with the hip parents who take their kids to Dan Zanesconcerts, and is just as crowded as one. But it also represents something much more mundane: the triumph of loose parts. After a century of creating playgrounds for children, of drilling swing sets and plastic forts into the ground, we have come back to children creating their own playgrounds. Loose parts—sand, water, blocks—are having a moment.

The resurgence of loose parts is an attempt to put the play back in playgrounds. The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of exuberant playground design, culminating in the great Richard Dattner adventure playgrounds in New York City. Then the grownups got skittish. Down came the merry-go-rounds and the jungle gyms, and in their place, a landscape of legally-insulated, brightly-colored, spongy-floored, hard-plastic structures took root. Today, walking onto a children’s playground is like exiting the interstate: Regardless of where you are, you see the exact same thing.

A lot of people agree that playgrounds are now too boring, and for years there’s been talk about how we should make them more challenging, more risky. But so far, that talk hasn’t turned into more interesting playgrounds. The most adventurous playgrounds tend to be singular projects, often built through fundraising, for the rich. (A genuine exception is this amazing project in Philadelphia.) “People talk about making playgrounds more risky,” says Susan Solomon, the author of American Playgrounds, which charts their demise. “But there’s this sense that if you talk about it, that’s enough. There’s this very real reluctance to get involved in anything that might at least potentially cause an injury.”

In Europe, the assumptions are radically different. Even the head of play safety at England’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents—a man whom you’d assume would be paranoid about preventing all accidents—has said that “children should be exposed to a certain degree of risk, not because an activity is risky per se but because it is fun, exciting, and challenging.”

As the psychologist Ellen Sandseter has pointed out, the American attitude is a fundamental miscalculation of the risks: Kids who are bored stay inside and staying inside is ultimately farworse for your health than a broken arm. Talk about why we can’t have nice playgrounds here typically begins and ends with lawsuits. But potential legal action is too easy an excuse for not rethinking playgrounds, says Darell Hammond, head of the play-promoting nonprofit KaBOOM!. Change “requires all of us doing something different, not just a few law changes.” In short, it requires all of us to be a little less panicked, and honestly, that’s probably too much to ask, at least in the short term. Which is why loose parts may be the best hope for the future of playgrounds right now.

Rockwell’s playground is still an adventure playground—a construction site with all the splintery edges sanded down. It’s what an adventure playground looks like in a risk-averse culture. And it promotes the kind of play we think children should be doing now: not with just their bodies, but with their minds. The Imagination Playground is a much more cognitive vision of the playground. No one would confuse it with a jungle gym.

Rockwell himself is well-aware of this. At the adventure playgrounds of decades past, he says, “they did things much more dangerous than you could get away with today in a litigious society—working with hammers and nails and actually building things.” (These types of playgrounds do still exist in the United States, but barely.) So instead of physical risk, Rockwell talks about creative risk. At the Imagination Playground, you can dare to build whatever you want—knowing that tomorrow it will be gone. “Part of the impact of the playground is that it is impermanent,” he says.

The rise of the loose parts playground extends well beyond lower Manhattan. In various versions, there are more than 1,000 sets of Rockwell’s blocks out there, and thanks in part toa partnership with KaBOOM!, a lot of those blocks are far from the tax brackets of the South Street Seaport. When I talked to KaBOOM!’s Hammond, he’d just come back from Miami, where the bright-blue blocks are in a low-income child care center.

Of course, loose parts don’t have to be designed by David Rockwell—they can be junk from your basement. Detroit’s Arts & Scraps is a loose parts-focused organization where the loose parts are, well, scraps. Early childhood educators, for their part, adore loose parts for the open-ended, spontaneous sort of play they encourage, which is very much in line with the new orthodoxy of how young children learn. “When you have loose parts, you don’t have the same repetitive pattern of play,” Hammond says. “It’s much a more circuitous path.” And that’s what you want from play. “You want to see kids escape into this zone in which they lose themselves.” In other words, loose parts are perfectly suited to assuage the paradoxical parental anxieties of the moment: We want our children to have time to play but we also want that play to be productive—to be more than play.

Of course, loose parts playgrounds are messier than plasticized fort structures. At the Imagination Playground, there are “play associates” present, partly to tell the parents to sit down, partly to  “facilitate play,” in their words, but also to put out the props and then put them away again. (Playworkers are much more common in England; they’re almost unknown here.) Loose parts require more oversight than a slide. They can walk away.

In New York, however, they haven’t. Until recently, the city spent a lot of time trying to vandal-proof playgrounds, says Nancy Barthold, assistant commissioner for recreation and programming for New York City’s Parks Department. Now the city distributes loose parts around the boroughs in the summer: some sets of Rockwell’s blocks, some hoses, some buckets and cloth, even makeshift sandboxes. Those loose parts stayed loose; they didn’t walk away. “We thought that things were going to get destroyed and stolen and they’re not,” Barthold says. “It’s nice to be able to go back to being able to offer children things that move around and to do it without too much worry.”

And in the end, the blocks might not even be the most important loose parts. “Kids are drawn to sand and water,” Barthold says. “Beyond the blocks, the basics are simply sand and water.”

Stanley Hall’s sand pile, it turns out, isn’t a portrait of the past. It’s a vision of the future.

Posted by in Blog on February 25, 2013


At the core of just about any Dynamo product, you will find the humble steel reinforced rope cable. While this rope may seem simple, it is a complex construction of steel and nylon designed for maximum longevity and durability of the playground equipment it supports.

Depending on where in the net structure it is used, Dynamo rope will contain either 144 or 168 strands of galvanized steel that provide strength and rigidity to the woven polyamide nylon braid. The steel reinforcement is the real strength behind the cable, and finding the right balance between strength and flexibility is a key to a great play experience. The inner rope’s 144 strands provide excellent strength, while keeping the cable flexible and comfortable to grip. The edge rope’s 168 strands provide additional strength where it is needed most – on the cables that take the most tension and keep the net standing tall.

The nylon weave that covers the steel is specifically developed with play in mind, to withstand the rigors of sun, water and salt. UV protection and flame retardant solutions are added into the nylon before it is braided, ensuring complete coverage and protection. This method allows for a soft, comfortable climbing experience that also achieves a class 7-8 Colourfastness rating – the highest level of protection available! Not only does this greatly delay the signs of fading in the rope, but the addition of the UV additive also serves to resist the wearing or fraying of the yarn.

No matter where it is used on any of the Dynamo climbing events, the steel reinforced rope cables are over-engineered to provide strength, durability and fun year after year.

Posted by in Blog on February 22, 2013


The Dynamo Biggo Flyer has had a history of leading the way. It was one of the first products to employ a to-fro swing-like motion in a multi-user product. It has surpassed all other products in its class for impact safety. It is a leading choice of designers for accessibility and its benefit for children with developmental challenges such as autism. And now, it leads the way again being the first product of its type to carry IPEMA certification to CSA Z-614.

At Dynamo, we’re proud to see the Biggo Flyer join the more than thirty other Dynamo products that already bear the IPEMA certified designation. It is truly an honour to see the industry recognize the effort that goes into designing, building and improving a great product. Look for even more products to join it in the near future.

From | by: Rob Lockhart, CCPI, CPSI

recent addition to many playgrounds are the ever-more-popular Climbing Nets. These nets offer a variety of challenges and opportunities for children of all ages, and can come in a wide variety of shapes and styles.

As providers of commercial playground equipment offer more of these climbing products, it can create questions for adults purchasing these items about how to understand the fall heights calculated by safety standards.

It can seem counter-intuitive that a pyramid-shaped Climbing Net with a center post height of nearly 32 feet (9.7 m) can still have a fall height of less than 8 feet (2.2 m); but, understanding how the nets are constructed helps to make sense of the logic.

Internal net geometry on a well-designed net will provide a continual criss-cross web below the user, preventing any long falls should the user happen to lose all of their gripping points. In effect the play piece is its own safety net.

Fall heights are calculated either at the highest point of the perimeter of the game, or at the highest point inside the net where a user of the targeted age range could conceiveably fall to the surface without being caught on a cross-rope. Although the higher value of the two is used for each net, the result is still a fall height far lower than the highest point on most net climbers.

Visiting a park with one of these net climbers will quickly show how much the children love them. Knowing that net designs are deceptively safer than their appearance can make purchasers and parents alike love them too.

Posted by in Blog on February 18, 2013


Play is universal. There is something special about the experience of playing that is recognized the world over.Whether it is the social benefits that come from the shared activities, the physical benefits from the active play, or just the opportunity to be creative in an unstructured environment, there is something unique about play that is shared by people all over the world. As Dynamo’s US and International Sales Director, Rob Lockhart observed during his various travels,“Playgrounds sound the same in any language.”

However, there have been times in our history where world events have caused this freedom to play, along with other freedoms, to be threatened. So on this, the 92nd anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War 1, Dynamo would like to take the opportunity to thank those that have served, and continue to serve, to protect our freedom to live, to work and to play. Dynamo remembers.

From | by: Nat Lockhart, CCPI, CPSI

Dynamo Playgrounds’ products are designed to get children outside and active, so it is only natural to have a strong commitment to making sure the environment is preserved for all the children of the world to be able to play for years to come. As a company, Dynamo is working at every possible level to make the world a greener place.

To begin with, Dynamo playground equipment is an environmentally sound choice. Utilizing designs that make better use of vertical space, Dynamo products allow more children to play in a smaller product footprint – as much as three times more play value for the same area. This means parks can be constructed to accommodate a whole community in a smaller space, leaving more land undisturbed or available for greenspace. This also means less development cost, time and resources are required for the play area and less impact absorbing materials needed under the equipment.

With unique construction methods requiring fewer raw materials than traditional structures, Dynamo Playgrounds products have a smaller carbon footprint and often “blend in” to the park environment better. Additionally, the Dynamo factory has achieved ISO 14001 certification for environmental responsibility in the manufacturing process. This is a continuation of Dynamo’s philosophy of always working towards further improvements, whether in efficiency, reducing environmental impact, or more forward-thinking design.

Due to exacting material specifications, Dynamo does not rely on recycled materials in the production process as they do not consistently meet Dynamo’s strict manufacturing tolerances; however, this is balanced by the fact that Dynamo uses fewer raw materials to produce a piece of play equipment than are required in producing a composite structure with the same play value. Additionally, Dynamo’s commitment to environmental responsibility means that great care is taken to ensure all waste materials are properly reused or recycled wherever possible.

Given the ability of the Internet to deliver relevant, current and detailed information to customers around the world, companies like Dynamo are utilizing it to a large degree in this modern age. At Dynamo, green efforts are taken a step further by partnering with an environmentally-responsible web hosting company that offsets its carbon footprint by 110% through large-scale reforestation projects. This will ensure that the information keeps flowing, and trees keep growing, for the future.

Finally, Dynamo’s newest catalogue is printed by a FSC, SFI and PEFC-certified printer that uses only environmentally friendly vegetable and soy-based inks and varnishes. In addition, they have established a Plant-a-Tree program in partnership with Scouts Canada to plant trees based on the volume of every print order. So far, over 90 trees have been planted on Dynamo’s behalf as a result of this partnership. This newest catalogue is also freely available on the Dynamo Playgrounds website for online viewing and download, something that Dynamo has been doing with all printed promotional materials since 2005. This means that customers need not request a printed copy when an electronic copy is satisfactory, and the volume of printed catalogues can be reduced to compensate for this use.

From the product to the process, and everything in between, these are just a few of the ways that Dynamo is helping keep our world greener today so children around the world can continue to play tomorrow.

Posted by in Blog on February 13, 2013

From | by: Rob Lockhart, CCPI, CPSI

What should a playground sound like? Children everywhere naturally like to play. Having traveled to playgrounds around the world, I can tell you that commercial playground equipment comes in a myriad of shapes and designs, but children at play sound the same in any language. Shrieks of laughter, giggles of happiness, and the ubiquitous ‘higher, faster!’ are universal.

Unstructured outdoor play is highly beneficial for children of all ages. Beyond the obvious activity and action which helps with physical wellbeing and using up excess energy, play also refreshes the mind and stimulates creative thinking. In other words, active play can help improve learning.

Given a fostering environment, children will develop forms of dynamic community play, with cooperation and sharing. Children are able to fluidly adapt their expression and communication whether they are surrounded by friends or strangers-about-to-be-friends. This can transcend any barriers of verbal language or cultures.

Truly, the language of play is universal. All children speak “fun”!

Posted by in Blog on February 11, 2013

From | by: Nat Lockhart, CCPI, CPSI

Have you ever owned a product that was of high quality? The entire ownership exprience is fantastic. You enjoy having the product, using the product, even telling others about the product. The product may require some maintenance from time-to-time in order to keep it running in top form, but even that is simple and effective. High quality does not always mean high price, but owners of high quality products usually feel their purchase was worth it, no matter the amount they paid.

In the world of commercial playground equipment, there are a few markers of quality. These indicate not only the quality of the product at initial manufacture, but also quality process that goes on from product design through manufacture to after-sales support and service. When this is in place, product quality, and in turn safety, improves. Validated by third-party organizations, these quality products will bear the TÜV or IPEMA marks, or both, depending on the region the product is sold.

Since both these designations require rigorous testing, careful planning and regular third-party inspections, you can be sure when you put a TÜV or IPEMA certified product in your playground, that it will provided years of safe fun for the children who play there. The next time you are choosing product, be sure to look for the TÜV or IPEMA symbols of quality. After all, a quality product really does pay for itself.

Posted by in Blog on February 8, 2013

From | by: Nat Lockhart, CCPI, CPSI

Commercial playground equipment is designed to endure extreme outdoor conditions, from the frigid chill of winter to the scorching heat of summer. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t show our playground some TLC and make it last even longer. Spring is an ideal time to perform some maintenance on your whole play area.

While most maintenance is best left to a certified professional, who is familiar with playground equipment and the standards in place in your area, most cities and school boards are happy to have hundreds of extra pairs of eyes, the people who use the playground, looking for and reporting any hazards they may see. (See article on Safety vs. Challenge for a definition of this term.) Members of the community can also organize a Spring Cleaning day to get their park clean and looking great before the throngs of children return to play there regularly.

Being proactive and doing a spring tune-up on your playground now will make the playground a safer and more enjoyable place to be once spring has well and truly sprung in your community.


At Dynamo Playgrounds, we believe in doing things better, and pushing creativity farther.

Many of our customers know that in recent years Dynamo took the unique decision to become our own rope manufacturer, and truly set ourselves apart from the competition. The main reason we did this was to take full control over quality, but now we are also taking advantage of this to add a new “twist” to our ropes.

Effectively doubling the number of rope colour choices for our clients to pick from, we are proud to announce the release of these exciting new Combination Rope Colours. After all – what child doesn’t want to play on a game made from Licorice Twist or Dragon Tail?! Together with our wide paint selection, the design possibilities are nearly endless.

Which twist will be your favourite?

Posted by in Blog on February 4, 2013

From | by Nat Lockhart, CCPI, CPSI

The weather seems to be more extreme these days. Whether it actually is, or if our perceptions are shaped by an increase in the availability of weather-related information thanks to a significant increase in media coverage is a debate best left to others. What is clear is that the weather is certainly on people’s minds a lot more these days – whether it be “Snowpocalypse” in the American North-east, the flooding and cyclone in Austalia or even the day-to-day weather wherever you may live.

In the realm of commercial playground equipment, weather plays an important, if perhaps overlooked, role. The weather affects whether or not we will go outside to use the equipment. The equipment may be taken out of service if the weather is too extreme, as often happens during the winter in Canada. Extreme weather may cause the equipment to deteriorate faster, such as plastic equipment deteriorating faster in sunny climates.

With playground equipment in active use on 5 continents, weather is always an important factor considered in the design of Dynamo playground equipment. The nylon coating on the cables prevents them from getting as hot as a steel climber. The pigmentation process used on the nylon produces an industry-leading protection against fading and material deterioration. The ground-mass achor system used on the Biggo Flyer and Rotating Climbers is designed and tested to stay put through a lifetime of freeze/thaw cycles.

No matter where you are located, it’s always a good day to play on Dynamo playground equipment – whatever the weather!

Posted by in Blog on February 1, 2013

Adding yet again to their revolutionary line of dynamic commercial playground equipment, Dynamo Playgrounds is pleased to introduce: the QUAD PODS.

Posted by in Blog on February 1, 2013

This week we’re running a special of 5% off our Tea Cup Merry Go Round.

Posted by in Blog on January 25, 2013

From on January 20, 2013 by Cosima Marriner

The so-called “helicopter” parent is becoming ubiquitous, with new research showing more than 90 per cent of school psychologists and counsellors are encountering over-involved parents.

Some schools are staging parenting workshops to counter this behaviour as psychologists believe it can damage a child’s resilience.

A Queensland University of Technology survey of nearly 130 parenting professionals from across the country revealed numerous examples of overparenting: a 16-year-old whose mother makes him a special plate of food to take to parties because he is a picky eater; 10-year-olds attending school camp who don’t know how to dress themselves; and an eight-year-old whose mother confronts her classmate over a playground disagreement.

More than a quarter of the school psychologists, counsellors, teachers and mental health workers surveyed reported seeing “many” instances of overparenting. Nearly two-thirds said they had seen some instances of this behaviour, while 8 per cent had never witnessed it.

An Australian Psychological Society representative, Darren Stops, said psychologists had observed the emergence of the helicopter parent in schools over the past decade.

“Children are not allowed to be independent, they’re overscheduled, parents are over-involved in their child’s life, they’re not letting children learn from their own mistakes,” said Mr Stops, an educational and developmental psychologist who works in schools.

“We tend to see more young people that aren’t able to accept the consequence of their own actions because mum and dad will jump in to defend them.”

The research also found schools were fielding parental requests for children to be placed in the same class as a friend, or in a sports house that matched their favourite colour, as well as parents contesting discipline meted out to their child.

Some schools are trying to head-off the issue of overparenting by hiring experts to advise new kindergarten parents on the appropriate level of involvement in their child’s life.

Florence Kearney, the principal of Somerville House, a private school in Brisbane, said holding parenting workshops run by a clinical pyschologist had proved successful at countering overparenting.

“It makes our job more difficult when parents overparent,” Ms Kearney said. “They have to let go and let their children learn to take risks and develop into confident people.”

Psychologists warn that overparenting is helping produce a generation of anxious children who aren’t resilient, have poor life skills, a strong sense of entitlement and little sense of responsibility.

“The result of overparenting is Gen Y: they’re highly emotional and expect everything to go their way – and they were parented less than the current generation,” QUT PhD researcher Judith Locke, who conducted the study, said. “You can’t complain about Gen Y and then go home and indulge your child.”

A clinical psychologist, Ms Locke’s research revealed many parents aren’t letting their child reach normal developmental milestones, such as travelling alone.

Ms Locke said parents were overthinking their own childhood. “They’re looking at the flaws in their childhood and they don’t see them as lucky events which produced resilience, they see them as stopping them becoming superstars,” Ms Locke said.

Family therapist Andrew Fuller, author of the parenting book Tricky Kids, said it was important parents didn’t do things for children that they could do themselves.

“Parents are carrying a massive burden of guilt because they are time-poor so they try to make it up to kids with things to replace time.”

Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg believes overparenting has almost become the norm. “Parents have fewer children these days, so they’ve got more energy and time to devote to, and focus on, these individuals … there are going to be so many screwed-up teens as a result of this.”

From Meadowbrooke Headmaster

Imagine: An adult is hit by a soccer ball on a playground, and unfortunately suffers a concussion. What would you do, if you administered a school? An administrator in a public school in Toronto faced this issue recently, and so banned the use of inflated balls in the schoolyard.

In some schools, games of tag and other chase and elimination games have been banned, following particular complaints of injury or the bruising of self-esteem.

Some places have removed playgrounds, because there is some fear that children may hurt themselves.

At our school, we are very aware of risk, and – because of that awareness – we will not be banning tag, banning balls, or removing playgrounds. A friend of mine, Stephen Smith, who teaches and writes at Simon Fraser University (phenomenology and Physical Education) notes that risk is an important component of development in children. It is through the taking of risks that children learn to be competent, to overcome fear, to work with others, and to measure their own abilities and learn new ones. When children play outside, they are often very shrewd judges of their own capabilities; they will only go so far up the rope climber unless they are certain of their own capacities. Their sense of their own self-worth is developed through increasing their competence, not through avoiding challenge.

What is very interesting is some recent evidence and thought regarding the essential role of risk in childhood development. From the New York Times:

After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision. The most common is climbing heights.
Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”

Sometimes, of course, their mastery fails, and falls are the common form of playground injury. But these rarely cause permanent damage, either physically or emotionally. While some psychologists — and many parents — have worried that a child who suffered a bad fall would develop a fear of heights, studies have shown the opposite pattern: A child who is hurt in a fall before the age of nine is less likely as a teenager to have a fear of heights.

By gradually exposing themselves to more and more dangers on the playground, children are using the same habituation techniques developed by therapists to help adults conquer phobias, according to Dr. Sandseter and a fellow psychologist, Leif Kennair, of the Norwegian University for Science and Technology.

“Risky play mirrors effective cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety,” they write in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, concluding that this “anti-phobic effect” helps explain the evolution of children’s fondness for thrill-seeking. While a youthful zest for exploring heights might not seem adaptive — why would natural selection favor children who risk death before they have a chance to reproduce? — the dangers seemed to be outweighed by the benefits of conquering fear and developing a sense of mastery.

“Paradoxically,” the psychologists write, “we posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.”

At our school, too, we ensure that we teach children how to be inclusive, how to sort out the inevitable issues that arise on the playground, and how to take measured risks. We think that risk should be transparent, and also that the appearance of removing risk is actually much more dangerous than making sure that risk is understood and managed. When a playground is perceived by everyone to be safe, then actual risk may increase. Our playground equipment is, or course, designed with proper fall zones, appropriate surfaces, and manageable equipment. But we will never claim to have removed all risk. It would not be honest or educationally sound, and we want our children to grow to be capable adults who are able to take reasonable risks. It is just a part of a healthy life.

From The Telegraph on January 18, 2013 by Telegraph Reporters

Worried parents will ban their children from making snowmen and having snowball fights this winter – for fear they will catch a cold, a study found.

The protective one in five mums and dads, 20 per cent, will try to stop their youngsters falling ill by keeping them wrapped up warm indoors.

Furthermore, 29 per cent say it is “too dangerous” to let them outside because they may slip on ice or be bruised by a tightly-packed snowball.

That is despite many parents admitting they “enjoyed” playing outside when they were younger, the study by Chessington World of Adventures Resort found.

A stressed 20 per cent say they are “too tired” or “too busy” to supervise their children outside, so they find it easier to ban them completely.

As a result, one in five children now spends 60 hours a month in front of a screen – either watching TV, playing video games or on their mobile phone.

One in five mums and dads say they would not encourage their children to take part in activities they enjoyed themselves when they were younger.

That includes climbing trees, building dens, rope swinging and camping overnight in the garden, the poll of 1,000 people found.

Parents’ biggest concern is that their children will hurt themselves, with 35 per cent citing that as a fear.

The decline in adventurous outdoor play means just 9 per cent of children list it as a favourite activity, compared with 37 per cent who like video games.

More than a quarter, 26 per cent, prefer playing sport, 17 per cent playing with other children and 11 per cent playing “make believe”.

The adventurous activity parents would most like to try with their kids is an animal safari, at 24 per cent, the study found.

Chessington commissioned the research in advance of the March launch of its new, multi-million pound safari attraction, ZUFARI: Ride into Africa.

David Smith, General Manager at Chessington World of Adventures Resort said: “Building snowmen and throwing snowballs are activities children have been doing for years.

“Getting outside and having fun is all part of growing up so it is a shame many of today’s youngsters are not experiencing this fun as parents are scared they may catch a cold or get hurt.

“Whether it’s in the snow or in warmer temperatures, studies have shown playing outside is good for children’s health, is character building, and can also boost their confidence.”

He added: “Our study has shown most parents enjoyed these activities themselves when they were young, so hopefully the thrills of our new ZUFARI: Ride into Africa attraction will help families rediscover their adventurous side together.”

Posted by in Blog on January 17, 2013

Dynamo’s newest Rotating game, that lets kids spin & spin & spin. Active play and fantastic sensations for children of all ages and abilities.