We all have, at one point, fooled around in a playground. Be it on a swing, slide, or jungle gym, some of our best childhood memories were created on the playground. Those playgrounds we are used to, utilize playground equipment, but Natural playgrounds are a thing, and they cost less than the playground equipment we are used to. Schools and communities who are looking for a way to save some money in this economy are steadily warming up to this idea.
According to the Natural Playgrounds Company®, communities, childcare centers, and the likes can save a lot of money by creating these natural playgrounds which are sustainable, safer and agree with green standards while also challenging children physically, mentally and emotionally. President of Concord, NH-Based Natural Playgrounds Company, spoke on this. According to him, everyone for the past 60 years, including bottom-liners have been reliant on playground equipment companies to provide recent playground equipment which has been approved by the safety boards. He went further to say that after this equipment goes out of style, they are unceremoniously thrown away, usually at some cost to the environment, while some other equally pertinent programs are left to suffer.
Interestingly, King declared that children never really liked equipment because, after over 5000 interviews conducted to verify this, Many children claimed to have, on occasion, gotten bored with the same style of play on this equipment and would rather engage in other activities like tree climbing, or bug hunting, the cost of which, is very low. Secondly, King also lamented about how, when these children get bored of this equipment, they begin to use them for purposes other than that for which it was created. The practice has led to a number of accidents, with some of these accidents even leading to deaths.
According to a survey carried out by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in the year 2000, a reported cost of over $8.4 billion was incurred on medical, pain and suffering, work expenses, as well as legal and liability costs due to over 560,000 accidents as a result of equipment. As a third point, Ron king mentioned that in relation to the expected play value, these play equipment is rather expensive. He went on to add that with the steady increase in oil costs, the price of this equipment will only continue to go higher as well. Play value is calculated as the amount of play per child, per dollar. King’s fourth point explained that the main reason that the manner of thinking is changing is that of the environmental impact involved in making, transporting and when they are outdated, destroying the equipment every ten years, which is on the high side.
It is now known as a “carbon footprint” which, simply put, is the total carbon dioxide in conjunction with other greenhouse gases which are emitted during the process of making, moving, using and disposing of the equipment. Lowering this carbon footprint for the sake of the earth and all its inhabitants is a worthwhile cause that is being taken up child centers, schools and governing bodies throughout the country. Fifthly, King expressed displeasure with the unsustainable nature of the play equipment, expressing that they take put extra pressure on the earth’s steadily depleting natural resources. According to him, it is for this reason that everyone is now concerned with making sure human use of natural resources are maintained at a level at which the earth can sustain itself still playground water features.
Lastly, Ron King brought to notice, another argument which is making investors have a rethink as to the use of equipment in playgrounds. The argument takes its backing from research which has shown that the mental, physical and emotional well-being of kids are directly connected to being exposed to nature. When exposed to nature, children are less likely to fall ill.
According to King, those who have been entrusted with the decision making responsibility which affects childcare and school budgets are steadily seeing the need to get other options that will lead to the cessation of use or at least, the reduced use of the expensive equipment playgrounds.
Of course, a very viable option has already been presented by the very earth we are trying to protect. King’s firm has been involved in the creation and designing of natural playgrounds for the better part of nine years.
Natural playgrounds, as opposed to equipment based ones, are sustainable because rather than using equipment, their basic forms simply require natural resources.
The low carbon footprint of natural playgrounds is another draw. The materials used for these playgrounds, rather than being manufactured, are found locally.
When it comes to play value, natural playgrounds provide, for the same amount of money, about 4 times more play items, all with a very high play value.
Findings by the Natural Playground Company® show that equipment playgrounds, at a similar price,
1.) Have about 4 times fewer number of play items.
2.) Also, have a lower play value when compared to natural playgrounds
3.) Leave very high carbon footprints while only using only about 13 percent of the land area provided.
4.) They are also very non-sustainable and do not benefit nature in any way.
On the other hand, the benefits of lower tech, natural playgrounds include some of the following
1.) An increase in the number of wildlife habitats.
2.) It leads to safer play.
3.) There are more options for children. They are free to explore and use their imaginations.
4.) It encourages the greening of schools.
5.) It also leads to property beautification.
6.) Drainage issues can be resolved with inexpensive solutions.
From all this, it is clear that the decision to invest in natural playgrounds is a very financially sound one which will benefit the environment and our lives, immensely.