Archive for the ‘safety’ Tag

The Safety Brigade: Protecting Kids Everywhere from Adventure!   2 comments


“How do you like to go up in a swing?  Up in the air so blue?  Oh I do think it is the most pleasantest thing ever a child can do!”  This little poem was written by Robert Louis Stevenson and captures the childhood joy of the simple act of swinging.  But – obviously Mr. Stevenson has not been on a swing recently.

Gone are the days when playgrounds had swings on super long chains (I’m not good at gauging actual lengths – so I’ll go with super long verses super short) that really did allow you to go “up in the air so blue.”  If you were pushing a child on one of those swings, you’d have time to lay out a picnic lunch before they would make it back to you for another push!

 But along came… the Safety Brigade!  They consisted of helicopter moms, armed with bubble wrap, who alerted their communities about the dangers lurking in local playgrounds.  They investigated and saw that the slides were too high and too fast.  They determined merry-go-rounds were a death trap and that the big, metal giraffe was, well… big and metal! (remember those?) 

Well – the safety brigade won their battle and playgrounds all across American were stripped of fun, unique, stuff.  Now, playgrounds everywhere look the same – colorful, plastic slides that are slow as sludge, swings that are so short you’d better not blink when pushing a kid because they’ll be on the return from that push in a nano second and knock you in the face.  I remember when I was a kid every park in our town had different equipment.  One park had circus themed equipment – an elephant slide and an old circus wagon.  Another park had a slide shaped like a rocket that you climbed up inside to reach the top.  Our elementary school had giant, cement cylinders in its playground.  Cool stuff. 

The argument is that kids were hurt on that old equipment – the swings were too high and someone could fall and break their neck.  True.  The slides were too high and someone could fall and break their neck.  True.  But if you want adventure in life – it comes with risk. Even everyday mundane activities can be dangerous.  People choke to death eating.  Someone may slip in their bathtub and be seriously hurt.  Thousands of people every year die from taking medications.  Yet, we continue to eat, bathe and take medications because it is part of life.  Childhood fun and adventure was once a normal part of life taken for granted.  But now that adventure has been made ultra safe, sanitized and occurs under the ever watchful eye of an adult – who often times is literally hovering over the child.   

There is one park left in our town that still has those giant swings and I will get on one and enjoy the feeling of literally sailing through the air.  The height gained on those gems is such that you can feel the strong pull of gravity on your body after that split second of weightlessness.  That feeling just isn’t there at the end of a six foot chain.  So when we head to this park I always glance behind me to make sure a member of the Safety Brigade isn’t following – ready to snatch up one of the last remaining treasures from American playgrounds and robbing kids everywhere of the chance to experience the simple joy expressed in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem.

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