Poorer Neighborhoods Often Have Less Safe Playgrounds

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From Your Health Journal…..”A great article today from US News & World Report via HealthDay from Serena Gordon called, Poorer Neighborhoods Often Have Less Safe Playgrounds. The headlines recently have discussed how obesity is on the rise all over the world, especially in the United States. Childhood obesity is also on the rise. Last week, I posted an article discussing how children in the poorer neighborhoods are unfortunately, eating poorly. Now, more reports come out stating how some playgrounds in the poor neighborhood are not safe. Is this another contributor to childhood obesity, as some parents may not want their children to play in an ‘unsafe’ park? Playgrounds are more than just some equipment and mulch. Playgrounds and green spaces can pull neighborhoods together, but need to be safe so kids do not get hurt, and parents can be comfortable with their playtime. A study was performed in Chicago on playground safety in poor neighborhoods. Playground surfacing was the biggest problem. Almost one in four of these playgrounds in the study didn’t have proper surfacing, which should be either a uniform surface made from rubber or other energy-absorbing material or loose-fill wood chips. Please take the time to visit the US News web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

Most playgrounds are safe for children, but many of them — particularly those in poorer neighborhoods — need improvement, a Chicago-area survey found.

The good news is that many of the safety issues, such as increasing the depth of wood chips covering playground surfaces, are easily correctable. And a softer landing can mean the difference between a harmless fall and one that causes serious injury, an expert said.

When researchers later followed up on the less-than-safe playgrounds, many of the problems had been fixed.

“We gave our information to the park district, and they were able to improve the quality of playgrounds pretty dramatically,” said senior study author Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“We’re also making this data available to the communities so they know what’s going on. It’s often about mobilizing political will. We need to recognize that access to safe playgrounds is part of the obesity epidemic solution. If we can get kids outside with a nice place to play, they’ll be more active,” Sheehan said.

The study appeared online Jan. 21 and will be published in the February print issue of Pediatrics, along with an editorial by Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

“Playgrounds are more than just some equipment and mulch. Playgrounds and green spaces can pull neighborhoods together,” Smith said. “They can help keep kids active and prevent childhood obesity. Play helps decrease unwanted behaviors and helps improve performance in the classroom. Play is a child’s occupation. And, playgrounds are a place where they can challenge and push themselves to grow physically and socially.”

To read the full article…..Click here

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