Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Who took all the fun out of Parks?

So something I have noticed recently since I have been taking Lily to different parks, is their increase in difficulty.

The fun things about parks for kids are there general attributes, swings, slides, roundabouts and little bit of climbing. But I have noticed that before the child gets to have fun on a slide they have to almost be as physically able as you would have to be to climb a mountain.

No longer do you often have a simple steps and then a slide. Or a nice simple easy climbing frame. Everything is step ladders, rope ladders, mountain ramps, gaps, and poles. 


We recently went to a park and Lily was gutted that she could not get on the slide easily. The slide was definitely for her age range. It wasn't to big of a slide and she would of loved to slide down it. BUT it was impossible for her to get to the slide itself. Even with me helping I couldn't get her up easily. 




You had a few choices how to get to this slide. 

1. Up the Rope Ladder Steps - These steps were so wobbly and the gaps between them were huge. Lily did not feel safe or secure at all and found it really difficult to cross from step to step. Even with me holding on to her they were incredible difficult to cross. So we gave up on these.

2. Wobbly Pole -  unless your really good at climbing poles which even most adult aren't good at, then this is more for sliding down and not a way up. 


3. Rope Net, to then Balance across Bars to the Platform -  Again, not easy and there was no chance this was going to be a way up for Lily. 

4. Get lifted up onto the slide platform by an adult - (If your strong enough to lift your 4 year old above your head) I wasn't.

So, much to Lily's disappointment we did end up giving up on going on the slide. 


I realise that not all parks are like this, our local one is a simple slide, steps and then slide down. The one across from the local school, its a really high slide, but this has steps built into a walkway all the way up. Safe, easy and Lily found it brilliant that she could simply walk up and slide down. In fact she did this over and over for at least 20 minutes. This also meant that I could relax, knowing she could happily play safe without my help and I didn't need to be panicking that she was going to fall and break her neck. 

So why are they starting to make parks so difficult? 

I asked a friend who works on the council and works on looking after and building the parks. She said that it is to encourage exercise and muscle building and that each thing on a park will be made for the ability of an age range.

But is the park above really helping with exercise? Not in my opinion. And since when has walking up lots of steps to get to a slide not been exercise? 

I know which park Lily got more exercise from and that was the one that had easy steps for her to climb up to be able to slide down. 

I am all for parks encouraging exercise. Thats why we take our kids to them at the end of the day, to burn energy. But at what point does a park become too much about exercise and not enough fun. Not to mention that a difficult park also takes away a child's independence to play alone which is also important for a child's development. 

Then you have to think about a child's self esteem. I always encourage children to try things but as I have mentioned not all children have the confidence. I can take an example where a young girl around 8 was wanting to go on the really big slide on a park, but the only way up was the mountain slants which all had big gaps criss crossing to get to the top. She was in tears because she didn't feel safe enough to do it and watched the children who did feel safe manage to do it. In the end, I helped this little girl and went up with her and held onto her while she did it. But it shouldn't have to be this way. Parks shouldn't be so difficult that they make a child cry. 

I think parks should have the easy option and the harder option at all times. Not all children have the confidence or ability to try the harder ones and children get more encouraged to try the harder options when they feel like the have accomplished the easier ones. If that park above wasn't made for Lily's age range then where is the slide for her age range? 4 year olds love slides as do children even younger.
I think parks need to think less about what they can do to build muscles and develop motor skills and just concentrate on the fact that they will do all that anyway but while also doing the most important thing...having FUN! 

I would love to know your opinion on the subject. 

16 comments:

  1. We have a new playground in our estate and it's definitely challenging for all! There are three slides and the tiny one is impossible for the little kids to get to so the parents end up lifting heavy toddlers.

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  2. I've noticed this as well. My granddaughter either has to use the baby slide, where she can manage to get up to the slide on her own, but the slide itself is meant for toddlers and so not interesting to her. Or else, with the slide that she wants to use, which is a bit bigger than the baby slide, there is a difficult rope netting to climb, where the gaps in the netting are too big for a 3 or 4 year-old to climb without assistance.

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  3. It's better than our local park ! It's vandalised and unsafe - agree with you - so many cuts to services
    have made it worse

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  4. Seems like parks have been fairly recently upgraded / renovated in our local area / county.

    Rachel Craig

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  5. Park equipment shown above :- Looks like a mini assault course. Assault courses are used in army training.

    As you mention :- Children Just Want to Have Fun. Exercise should be safe, and Fun.

    Rachel Craig

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  6. i agree with this so much, theres no simplicity with it anymore, just difficult

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  7. Parks can come in such a vast range / variety :- Play Park ( Which I believe is what you, I and some others expect for children's parks). Theme Park, Football Park, Animal Park, Safari Park, etc, etc. All of which we would expect Health and Safety to be a priority. We would expect Leisure, Recreation, a Fun Day Out. Happiness, Socialisation, Cohesiveness, "Feel Good Factor" :- All of these elements seem to fit well with our expectations of a park / parks. Maybe that is what the Council, Planners, Organisers, Architects, Builders, Financiers NEED to take account of in order to plan, provide, implement and evaluate cost effective, town and country planning, etc.

    Rachel Craig

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  8. Intergenerational parks can be good. As exercise is good for all ages. Seems like Comsultation with the Public / Locals should be mandatory prior to provision of new park equipment. As abilities vary. Also surely the disabled should also be included, as there is a wide range of disabilities. Yet we should all be provided with opportunities to reach our potential. Exercise can be beneficial, but provision surely needs to be appropriate.

    Rachel Craig

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  9. Wondering if those who approved the equipment for the playpark will be evaluating it. As saddened that children are unable to have access to playpark equipment which is appropriate, acceptable, and accessible for them to have fun and exercise safely outdoors.

    Rachel Craig

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  10. Nice to see some grass and trees around the park.

    Rachel Craig

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  11. Practicality / suitable for purpose, etc :- What used to be thought as common sense. I hope that in the future we see Meghan Markle wear sensible / practical / flat shoes, maybe trainers when having outdoors fun with her son, etc.

    I can recall Kate Middleton ( Duchess of Cambridge ) participating in sport whilst wearing :- Probably high wedged shoes. Yet when Prince William participates in sports he wears training shoes ( forward planning having been done).

    Playpark :- Should surely be about play, and playing safely and happily. Good experiences can lead to happy memories which can last a lifetime.

    Rachel Craig

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  12. so many parks are just big climbing frames now which smaller children struggle with. my girls are older now but now they can reach everything they're not as interested! although my 9 year old would play on the monkey bars all day given the chance!

    Our local park recently took away the roundabout as the teenagers were using it and a smaller child got injured, it is such ashame, my girls loved the roundabout

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  13. How typical of the local council to decide for parents that children need more exercise. Parks are for fun and fresh air. Exercise comes as part of that package.
    I find that older children use new parks to hang out which often leads to undesirable behaviour.

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  14. Having recently seen Kate (nee Middleton) on tv. Clips initially had given the impression that she was in her garden at home with the children, and that Louis :- her youngest child with Prince William has began to walk. Full story in news :- Kate had been involved in designing an area within The Chelsea Show, Garden. She and her children had been given the opportunity to experience that garden. Garden, play, nature areas seem important for all individuals.

    Rachel Craig

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  15. Wondering if Kate (nee Middleton) being involved in codesigning an area within The Chelsea Flower Show is a sign of what the future will bring for individuals / communities within Britain. Seems like a Nature based type of play garden :- As all three of Kate and William's children are seen / shown playing in the area.

    Rachel Craig

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  16. Answer :- I don't know.

    Recently watched Planet Child series itv / stv, and likely available via iplayer. Reseach on children, looked at a variety of aspects, covered a variety of countries / cultures :- For comparison/s. Interesting, Informative, Entertaining, Amusing. Hoping there will be another series. Well worth watching.

    Play and Playparks can be so much fun, etc. Maybe Reseach on this aspect would be beneficial for public / parents / professionals / town planners / local councils / authorities, etc.

    I can imagine the park shown above lying unuse for years to come :- Which would be a totally ineffective expense of finances, energy, labour hours, resources, etc, etc.

    Rachel Craig

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