Beyond Ridiculous

From the Sun-Sentinel:

Andrea Levin is grateful that Broward County schools care about her daughter’s safety. But this year when they posted a sign that demanded “no running” on the playground, it seemed like overkill.

“I realize we want to keep kids from cracking their heads open,” said Levin, whose daughter is a Gator Run Elementary fifth grader in Weston. “But there has to be a place where they can get out and run.”

Broward’s “Rules of the Playground” signs, bought from an equipment catalogue and displayed at all 137 elementary schools in the district, are just one of several steps taken to cut down on injuries and the lawsuits they inspire.

“It’s too tight around the equipment to be running,” said Safety Director Jerry Graziose, the Broward County official who ordered the signs. “Our job was to try to control it.”

How about swings or those hand-pulled merry-go-rounds?

“Nope. They’ve got moving parts. Moving parts on equipment is the number one cause of injury on the playgrounds.”

Teeter-totters?

“Nope. That’s moving too.”

Sandboxes?

“Well, I have to be careful about animals” turning them into litter boxes.

Cement crawl tubes?

“Vagrants. The longer they are, the higher possibility that a vagrant could stay in them. We have shorter ones now that are made out of plastic or fiberglass.”

Broward playgrounds aren’t the only ones to avoid equipment that most adults remember. Swings, merry-go-rounds, teeter-totters and other old standards are vanishing from schools and parks around the country, according to the National Program for Playground Safety.

“Kids aren’t using them the way they’re supposed to,” said the agency’s director, Donna Thompson, who led a national effort to get rid of animal swings two years ago. “I’m pleased that a lot of these are disappearing.”

In Miami-Dade County, public schools don’t use a lot of traditional equipment, including swings and sandboxes. In Palm Beach County, some schools have swings, but they’re no longer included on newer campuses because there’s not enough space.

In their place, a lot of playgrounds now are inhabited with clusters of bright, multi-use contraptions with names like “Ed Center” and “Platform Climber Composite Structure.” They’re lower to the ground than their predecessors, coated with plastic and engineered for safety.

Now this is just plain stupid. It sounds like something out of The Simpsons or South Park, but this is real.

When I was growing up we were able to run & play. Sure there were some accidents, but we survived, as did all of the generations before us. We weren’t living in the insulated world protected against everything that today’s schools & parents are trying to create. We’ve been heading in this direction for a long time but this reaches a new low.

We keep hearing how today’s kids are overweight because they spend all their time indoors as couch potatoes instead of going outside & playing. No, it’s too dangerous for them to go out and play. We need to protect our kids from broken arms & skinned knees. Never mind they’re obese and have dangerously high cholesterol before they reach their teens. I feel sorry for them.

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