Play is one of the most significant aspects in child development. Children who get enough play are exposed to the basic foundation of early learning as well as future learning. Furthermore, educators and child development experts recognize the importance of play, and this is manifested in the way educational, and home environments are expected to create convenient mechanisms for children to meet and play outdoors (Booth et al., 2004). Some parents may argue that indoor play is better due to safety concerns. Nonetheless, prior research on play and child development show that outdoor play gives children the opportunity to engage in various types of play that enhance their physical capabilities and also instill a sense of independence (Black, Menzel & Bungum, 2015). In addition, outdoor play enhances a child’s psychological well-being because they get socially exposed to other children and form relationships that highly impact their lives. Outdoor play also offers a wide range of possibilities including climbing, biking, trikes, use of large space, and environmental interaction. The most convenient platform that allows the aforementioned benefits to child development is a children’s playground. However, a poorly maintained playground is not suitable for children as it hinders their ability to play (Cohen et al., 2015). The Roslin Farms community faces similar concerns given that the community’s playground is in bad shape, consequently denying children the ability to play outdoors and also exposes them to the risk of injury, street traffic, and minimal social interaction. This report provides insight into the current state of the community’s children’s playground as well as concerns that need to be addressed to solve the problem through the implementation of necessary renovations effectively. The report will draw conclusions from primary and secondary research. Notably, information gathered through interviews with parents and other members of the Roslin Farms community provides more insight on the current state of the children’s playground and also provides a clear understanding of the concerns parents have regarding their children’s use of the playground.
Community’s Concerns on the Current State of the Playground
Reduced Physical Activity
Upon interviewing parents, majority unveiled that the poor condition of the playground forces them to restrict their children’s play activity to indoor parameters. As a result, their children have reduced their physical abilities and show less interest in important aspects such as sports and recreational bike riding. This concern is backed by prior research on child development and physical activity, which establishes that reduced physical activity in children has detrimental factors that can impact future physical capabilities of children. Janssen & LeBlanc (2010) states that consistent physical activity can bestow sustainable health benefits to children and also reduce their risk of chronic diseases, improved social and mental health, and fitness through maintaining healthy body weight. Notably, children with minimal physical activity are at a greater risk of becoming obese (Coen & Ross, 2006). Both structured and unstructured activities such as cycling, walking and particularly any form of outdoor activity are highly associated with a child’s physical activity. Research on the topic further shows that neighborhood environments which contain playgrounds and parks that promote the enhancement of children’s physical activity correlate with both social and psychological benefits as well as a healthy body mass index for children (Coen & Ross, 2006). Lack of the latter therein exposes these children to the associated health risks.
While most parents opt to keep their children indoors, about a third of the parents allow their children to play outside in the playgrounds despite the poor conditions. These parents are, however, dissatisfied and discouraged by the state of the playground due to the high prevalence of injuries imminent in their children. The increased rate of injuries from playing in the park is a result of the broken and rusty equipment as well as the uneven and rocky surface which makes the children susceptible to injury during play. Parents complained that the prevalent injuries were very harmful to their children as most of them ultimately develop phobias tied to outdoor play while others get scars that impact their attitudes towards physical activity (Norton, Nixon & Sibert, 2004). They reported the most common forms of injuries were bruises which are less severe as compared to fractures and head injuries. Notably, parents who restricted their children from playing on the unfit playground were more concerned about head injuries and fractures rather than scratches and bruises. In addition, the emergency visits to the community hospitals from the playground injuries are very high, a factor that may lead parents to file lawsuits against the community’s real estate developers if the issue remains unsolved.
Increased risk of Accidents
Members of the community raised concerns regarding the risk of accidents. This is due to the fact that the Roslin Farms Community is a big neighborhood hence the streets and paved roads are busy with vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles traffic. With the closing of schools for the summer break, children will be forced to play on the streets, and this will ultimately expose them to the risk of accidents. The residents backed up their concerns with three evident cases where three children in the neighborhood were hit by vehicles on the road while playing on different occasions. One of the children was detrimentally injured, while the rest luckily incurred minor injuries. Nonetheless, the risk of accidents from playing outside has led most parents to restrict their children’s play environment. This has not only affected their play time but also minimized their children’s interactions with each other.
Change in Children’s Behavior
Residents of the Roslin Farms Community complained of a change in their children’s behavior due to lack of effective outdoor play. Given that most of the playground equipment is in bad shape, most children opt to play on the streets or stay indoors. Parents noted that their children have developed the language adults speak on the streets, while those who prefer to stay indoors have developed an addiction to television and computer gaming. These concerns are backed by prior studies which show that children’s behavior is highly influenced by their environment. While playing on the streets, children are prone to learning from what they see other people, especially adults doing. In the case where adults use foul language, the children pick up these languages and imitate them. On the other hand, children who stay indoors, do so because the playground is less attractive to them. As a result, they develop habits like watching so much television while others start playing video games which are very addictive. Ibberson (2017), notes that a child’s environment is a key factor in the development of their future behavior. If they develop a habit of watching too much television and video games, they will most likely watch too much television and addictively play video games when older. Notably, the latter behaviors are linked to behavioral disorders that align with low self-esteem and overeating which ultimately causes obesity (Ibberson 2017).
Reduced Property Value
The poor condition of the playground not only possess problems for residents but also the real estate developers of the community. This follows the fact that in the past 5 years, 5% of the residents moved to other communities, leaving most houses empty. Many prospects loved the community’s environment but failed to purchase homes due to the poor state of the playground, based on concerns regarding their children’s outdoor play. It is, therefore, necessary to make playground renovations to attract prospects into the community.
The most relevant solution to the aforementioned problems is to make the necessary renovations to the community’s playground. Primary research on the aforementioned issue portrays the need to tackle the root cause of the problem rather than deal with the effects of the problem. To this regard, there is need to make absolute renovations which will account for play equipment as well as the playground environment. To achieve this, the issue of budget and financing first needs to be addressed. It is, however, worth noting that the cost incurred to make the renovations will be high, nonetheless, the benefits tied to taking the necessary action outweighs the monetary value of the project. Budgeting can be done by a financial expert with the help of a playground renovator. The involvement of a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) is also very important to ensure that the proposed equipment and environment meet the highest safety standards.
Secondly, the renovation team will need to purchase new equipment given that existing equipment is outdated, broken and rusty. None of the existing equipment is fit for repair. The proposed equipment include fitness systems which comprise complete 5-station systems, a twister, a switch glider, a life-trail activity panel, a space ball M net climber, a funnel ball, a tether ball and furniture like benches, picnic tables. Since the basketball court is still functional, it will only need a painting job and new basketballs. There is also a need to create a new fence that would provide security for the children and the playground equipment. According to Blac, Menzel & Bungum (2015), children need equipment that exercises their bodies and reduces the risk of obesity in a country where 20% of the children are currently obese.
Thirdly, the renovations will include the resurfacing of the playground to remove all rocks, even the surface and add sand. The renovation team will also plant grass on the exterior surfaces to create a park-like feel and make the playground more attractive for the children and their parents. All the proposed equipment are usable for children of varying ages and will, therefore, attract a wide range of ages, including older children aged 10-15 years. After liaising with renovation experts, it was determined that the estimated cost for the complete renovations would amount to 50,000 USD.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on information gathered from the Roslin Farms Community residents, the community playground is in bad shape, consequently affecting healthy play for the children. There are also several intrinsic and extrinsic problems resulting from the current state of the playground. As a result, there is need to renovate the playground with the aim of creating a good and fun environment for children during the summer break and eradicating problematic factors that affect not only children but also the residents and real estate developers of the community.
While making the necessary renovations, the involved personnel should ensure that all basic playground equipment are provided alongside the proposed equipment. This will not only interest children into engaging in outdoor play but also provide a wide range of play activities for the children, a factor that will reduce boredom and promote fun experiences for them. The renovations should also be accompanied by a supervision strategy to aid the children when adapting to this new equipment and also help them learn how to use them and maintain safety procedures during play. A supervisor will also help the children explore various exercises and games that align with the various equipment to make the outdoor activities fun and attractive for the children. Finally, upon completion, parents concerned with safety need to allow their children to experience the new infrastructure by letting the children play.