Two months ago I ended my column with the following statement: “Assuming the ISO TC 83 terminology paper “Injury and Safety Definitions and Thresholds” is approved and published, I will discuss the definitions for different types of injuries and break down each type into various levels of severity.” As of end of 2013, the document has not been voted on.
Just a few weeks ago I received an email alert about a 7-year-old girl’s death on a playground in the State of Washington. This recent death of a young girl has once again placed our public playgrounds under the microscope of media scrutiny. I have a concern with how the media and public playground owners are reacting to this story. Some public agency governing boards and administrators have already taken action even though the facts of the case are still under investigation.
You cannot even begin to design an inclusive playground if you have not dealt with that most basic concept of ensuring that everyone can access your space. The number one barrier to a playground is surfacing. When I was traveling this summer, I saw many instances of non-maintained surfacing that impacted not only the accessibility of the playground, but also the safety.
Many community leaders at schools, parks departments, child care centers, and other agencies often wonder if they should rally resources for new or improved playground areas. The playground feasibility process is clear, straight forward, and easy to prepare but at the same time requires the local leader to consider several key areas in their decision making process.