Public playgrounds are an iconic symbol of childhood. The first playgrounds were a German invention built to teach children how to play. 1859 saw the first British playground in Manchester. 1907 saw the introduction of playgrounds in America because President Roosevelt considered roads to be unsafe.
The first playground equipment consisted of slides, swings, roundabouts and climbing frames. Traditional playground equipment focused on physical development leaving very little opportunity for creativity. Adventure and junk playgrounds were developed to encourage imagination and free play.
Modern playground design incorporates imaginative and physical play. Public playgrounds look bright and exciting compared to playgrounds in the past. Playgrounds are still very important as roads get busier and towns get more built up. Children need a safe place to play to meet friends and to exercise their minds and bodies.
Public playgrounds provide many learning opportunities through different types of play. Outdoor play allows; physical, social, emotional, imaginative and cognitive development. Exercise improves health and well-being while the safe environment encourages independence.
A local playground is a wonderful way for parents to introduce young children to playground equipment and new friends. It is amazing watching a child progress from being supervised on the springers to climbing up a play tower. Playgrounds allow children to challenge themselves in safety which also improves confidence.
Children find out very quickly that it is rude to push in and that turn-taking is very important. They learn to make friends and how to deal with conflict under the watchful eye of their parents. The inclusive design of modern playground equipment allows all children to play together without leaving anyone out.
Older children enjoy the independence playgrounds provide. Public playgrounds are a safe place for them to meet particularly if they are a short walk from home. Playground committees and councils maintain playgrounds so they are always safe to use.
Voluntary playground committees dedicate their time to keeping local playgrounds open. They are taking responsibility for playgrounds from councils who can’t financially support their upkeep. Public playgrounds are essential for the well-being of children because they encourage exercise and social skills.
The Association Of Play Industries (API) has set up the Nowhere2Play campaign highlighting the closure of many playgrounds. The greatest concern is the impact it has on the impending obesity crisis. Children’s lives are sedentary and they spend more time staring at a screen than exercising. Roads are busy and playing in the street is not as safe as it used to be. The increasing population requires more housing and reduces green spaces to play.
Dedicated funding from the Government has ceased and has an impact on local council budgets. Playground committees raise funds in a variety of different ways. Fundraising events such as fairs, coffee mornings and sponsored walks help raise money for upkeep and equipment. Another way of raising money is to apply for grants. Many different businesses and trusts offer grants to finance the purchase of playground equipment.
Local people supporting playgrounds will ensure that they remain open. Public playgrounds are safe and wonderful spaces for children to enjoy.
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