Underrated in America: Playgrounds


A new British study says that "boring" playgrounds are stifling kids creativity and blames the problem on "kit" playgrounds that are mostly designed to contain children rather than inspire them. I don't see how that's possible. My daughter plays on one of the most boring playgrounds around. It is small and definitely uninspired, basically consisting of a set of swings and a multi-platformed jungle gym area with a small slide. And she loves it more than anything.

I've taken her to more imaginative playgrounds, but she has never had as much fun as she has at her own neighborhood park, running an ice cream stand from one part of the deck, making food out of crumbled leaves and sticks on a different platform and imagining that she is flying on the swings. She runs and plays and begs to stay when I say it is time to come home.

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Her play in this rudimentary playground is about more than just getting her outside for some fresh air and exercise, although that's extremely important as well. Childhood obesity is a continuing problem, and while the latest numbers show that the epidemic might have plateaued, that still leaves a lot of children out there with weight problems, and with the potential to develop diabetes and other serious conditions. Playgrounds should be revered just for providing a space to a little running and jumping.