Schools in Cabell County, West Virginia are in the process of removing all of the swing sets on their playgrounds. The reason? They are too dangerous. After two different lawsuits, the most recent one the result of a boy playing superman as he flew off the swing, the schools determined that something needed to be done. Replacing the ground covering with a protective padding proved to be too expensive – a figure upwards of $576,000. Their only other option was to remove the swing sets from every school, creating an uproar among parents and a claim of being “un-American”. I’m just going to say it, because I know you all are thinking it –
What the heck is wrong with today’s kids that they can’t even jump off of a swing without some sort of protection put in place?
Excuse me for the old fogey talk, but in my day we swung on swing sets that sat upon sand or concrete. In fact, there is a picture in my parents’ house of my sister and I sitting on a bar several feet off the ground at a sandy park in Sonoma. Next to that tall swing bar (that has ironically been removed since) were our favorite swings that we would attempt to swing all the way around the set on (we never were able to, but heard legends of kids who could). We did not have foam padding to land softly and gently on. We did not cautiously float to the ground or stop moving our feet so that we could eventually coast to a stop. We swung ourselves with all our might and then flung ourselves from the seat of the swing, trying to land as far as possible away from the swing. Sometimes we made it to our feet, but many times we fell and tumbled to a stop. And yes, there were kids we knew who broke an arm or a leg on the swing, as well as other playground equipment. But it was all a part of childhood. Their parents did not sue the city or the school. The schools did not remove playground equipment that a kid got hurt on. It was not demanded that a foam carpet be put down to protect all of our delicate bodies. They just casted the ailing kid up and we were all back to swinging and playing superman as we flew off the swing.
With the removal of swings, I’ve been brainstorming some ideas to help keep our kids safe.
• Ban jumping (potential ankle breaking activity) on the basketball courts by lowering the hoops to 2 feet.
• Hook kids up to a tether so that they don’t slide too fast down the slide.
• Secure pillows around tether balls so that kids won’t hurt themselves when they are hit in the face.
• Instead of dodge ball, play dodge balloon.
• Hopscotch is now Shuffle-scotch
• Monkey bars can only be used if the child is touching the ground at the same time.
• Kickball can only be played with an imaginary ball.
• All school sports must be played virtually through video games, and the child must be sitting at all times so as to not overexert themselves.
• Before playing on the playground, all kids must be outfitted in a pillow suit to protect against falls, and then covered with a giant balloon to protect against germs
On that note, stay tuned for future rant involving the over-usage of anti-bacterial agents…..