Feature Article - January 2007
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Safe Ground

Building, maintaining and inspecting playgrounds to ensure all kids can play, safely

By Emily Tipping

Challenge children physically,
Protect their growing bodies

Ultimately, the important thing is to encourage children to get out and play—to challenge themselves physically and get active. This is the only way we're going to combat the childhood obesity problems in this country.

"I think that the playgrounds we've installed and the equipment we've reviewed and certified as safe allows the child to gain all the strength that he would need to help his body grow without having the risk of injury," Hurst said of the AAOS. "I have the pleasure of having two grandsons age 4 and 6, and they get to play on our playground near our house here, and I know they get challenged physically in a very safe manner."

Wallach agreed, stating that while it's important to remove hazards, that doesn't necessarily mean physical challenge is compromised. "We can make playgrounds safe without taking away the challenges," she explained. "We take away the hazards when we make playgrounds safe. …Things like exposed protrusions that can lacerate or hang the child don't have to be there, but have nothing to do with the challenge."

"We have a lot of fun fixing these kids," Hurst said, "but we have a lot more fun making sure everyone's safe."