Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outdoor Wednesday: Playgrounds

Two months ago, my 8 year old student fell of the Monkey bars in our school playground and broke her leg. She said she was being targeted as the TAG and she tried to avoid being tagged, and as a result fell off the monkey bar. It should be a safe place as there were tree barks. I was asked by the office to call her mum because I could speak their language. She has to wear a cast for a long time..

I spent all my life in playgrounds, as a kid, then as a mum and now as a teacher. I had my share of falls and accidents. Now I see kids with cast. Kids are kids, there will always be accidents. But the playground equipment makers can make the playground safer.

I have a phobia about playground because I was injured some where I was too embarrassed to tell my parents when I was a teenager. Now I am past 1/2 a century, I tell you I wear a badge on my cheeks, (no , not one my face) but on my bum. I had a 2 inch splinter stuck in it from the slide. I hobbled home and my sister Margaret became my doctor. It was rather silly as I think back. If I had told my parents, they probably would demand the authorities to have a safety check.

That is why when I was a mum at the university in Singapore, I was the self appointed guardian of the playground. LOL

photo courtesy Sarawakaina
Fellow Blogger Sarawakiana made me very happy today. She posted a photo of this merry-g-round which I had been looking for when I did the post below last year. You can believe it, when I started secondary school, she was a senior. I admired her, and she was everything I wasn't. Can you imagine the delight when I found her on cyberspace 40 years later. She used a nom de plume, and I had to scour through her blog to confirm it was her, and when I asked her, initially she didn't say. My curiosity almost killed my cat. So Sarawakiana, thank you for being a friend.

The wheel where the kid was flung off and hit a metal pole.

Courtesy yahoo news. My girls used to play twenty years ago,

This is a big one, that I am weary of. There is no photo of the one when I was young in Borneo.


I could never understand why the makers of playground equipment made these things that go round and round. When I was little, we lived near a playground provided by the Government. The playground was very big as it was catering for the children of civil servants. That was what Dad was. There were two sets of everything.

I never liked the "Merry Go Round" aka roundabout, it was like a bird cage of 8 feet diameter. Otherwise, it was like a giant rattle, with the handle stuck in the ground. We could sit on wooden planks or stand. It was two feet from ground. The braver ones hold with one hand and stand on one leg with the body outside the cage. A person or two stand on the ground and spin the cage. Usually the bigger boys did that. I was prong to dizziness but it didn't deter me from joining the rest to be spun round and round.

In those days, our cousins always came in the holidays and they would go crazy in the playground as they didn't live near one.

My fondest memory or one that impacted all of us was we were all on it, and the boys were spinning us. There were two little cousins M and C. Cousin H who was my age was eating a preserved plum and carrying one of our other cousins.

I was screaming because I always getting dizzy. H dropped her sour plum and was bending down to pick it. She didn't know that when you are on it, you must hold on to the rails very tightly. The little cousin's head was almost touching to the ground as we spun round and round. H tried to grab hold of cousin M. M was spun like rag doll or a head banger when an ice skater spins his partner holding her legs.

Initially the boys just spun faster and faster. It was terrifying, all the girls were screaming and M was crying. Realizing what was happening, the boys pulled the Merry Go Round to make it go the reversed direction before it finally stopped.

Luckily M was not hurt, and only shaken. In fact, we were all shaken. It was our secret. We never told anyone. M, H and I belonged to different sets of family. We bribed M and her sister C to keep quiet.

When I met up with H in 1980, we laughed recalling that incident. M was recently bereaved, her husband died, and all of us remembered that incident.

Last December, my sister Margaret came to visit Auckland with her kids. I took them to Western Springs. While the kids played on another "Round and Round" equipment, Margaret and I reminisced that incident. Before we could finish our story, a little kids was spun out and hit the steel pole. My sister and I saw the kid flying out. We went to help. The mum went and said," Sorry Bub, Sorry Bub," and she herself was crying. She had three little kids spinning on the tire. The kid was screaming. I asked the mum if she had some water to give it to the kid.

I went to the park and took the photo. Now that my kids are grown, the youngest being 13, I am relax in the playground. I had been a self appointed supervisor of playground safety.

Below is another case which was just reported in New Zealand which prompted this post.

Girl scalped by roundabout
July 6, 2010, 8:12 am

Invercargill City Council will today decide what action to take after a six-year-old girl suffered a fractured skull and was partially scalped after getting her hair caught in a city park roundabout.

The girl, who has not been named, was sitting on the platform of the roundabout at Otepuni playground while other children whirled it around on June 24.

Her hair got caught in the machinery, pulling her head so tightly that large chunks of her hair ripped out at the roots and her skull fractured, The Southland Times reported.

She was rushed to hospital with blood coming out of an ear and still suffered from hearing loss. It was not known whether her hair will grow back.
The council had removed the at least 25-year-old roundabout plus similar amusements around the city's playgrounds and were meeting today to review the situation.



Ensurai said...

Thanks Ann. In turn you are a good friend too via the wisdom you share with us through your magnificent writing in your blog.

For me my greatest shock one day was seeing my son dropping from a swing. My tennis coach who was then about 70 was quick enough to pick him up before the swing "swang down" to hit him ...he might have been killed. He was only 4. It was a home made swing and we were visitng for Chinese New Year. I did not know that my little boy could climb up and drop when my back was turned. It was like 2 short but deadly seconds of our life!! But the late Mr. Chai was so fast!! I still can kick myself when I remember this incident...

Yes we need a supervisor for playgrounds all the time.

Ginny Hartzler said...

How horrible all of this is!!!! Well, all playground eqiipment is dangerous to some extent, even regular swings! Do you have playground regulations there? We do, we put a playground on our church recently, and strict guidelines to follow. Just for a slide and three swings! Must be soft wood chips or something like that on the ground...but I think all playgrounds need to have an inspector come twice a year!!! I guess they NEVER are inspected and once put in, no one cares!

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eileeninmd said...

It is sad to hear the playgrounds can cause so many accidents. I'm sure all the kids are thinking about is having fun and not getting hurt. Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Easter.

Playground equipment Houston said...

Thanks Ann. In turn you are a good friend too via the wisdom you share with us through your magnificent writing in your blog.