Exciting and 'safe' playgrounds

29/05/2006

We need to see exciting and stimulating play areas with high play value. These will contribute to the physical and psychological development of the child.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is staging a conference on June 15 to promote exciting but safe play areas for children, as millions of pounds are about to be spent on new schemes.

The Big UK Lottery Fund has allocated £124 million to develop play provision in places of greatest need - and RoSPA believes if children are to use play areas they should be stimulating and "as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible".

Experts from the UK and abroad will tackle the issue at RoSPA's Play Safety Conference Ensuring Play Value at Holywell Park Loughborough University, on June 15.

David Yearley, RoSPA Play Safety Manager, said: "The lottery funding is most welcome and offers great opportunities for play providers, but it is important that it is spent wisely.

"We need to see exciting and stimulating play areas with high play value. These will contribute to the physical and psychological development of the child and discourage children from playing in dangerous places such as railway lines, river banks and alongside roads. Play areas should be as safe as necessary, but not as safe as possible.

"Parents have to accept that children may get hurt while playing - more than 38,000 children are injured seriously enough on UK playgrounds each year to have to go to hospital. What we must do is try to ensure that those injuries are not too serious."

Speakers include Adrian Voce, Director, Children's Play Council, on maximising play value with lottery funding and Joel Briant, former Cabinet Member for Recreation, Bexley Borough Council, on achieving best value for money. Dr David Eager, University of Technology Sydney, will be presenting his latest research and proposing changes in the way the impact attenuating properties of "safer" surfacing are measured in order to reduce the incidence of long limb fractures.

Workshop sessions include how play provision for young people helps reduce crime and petty vandalism; trampoline safety; valuing and assessing play areas for tendering; children's recreation - practices and development; and on-site water hazards.

The conference will be of interest to chief leisure officers, playground managers, parks and open space managers, architects, planners, play area constructors, indoor play operators, holiday park operators, environmental health officers and local authority members. There will also be an exhibition with displays including play equipment, skate park ramps and impact absorbing surfaces.

More information: www.rospa.com/leisuresafety/playsafety.

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