Kids need to get out and play

Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 04:44 PM.

Driving through Morehead City on Bridges Street on a perfect August Saturday afternoon, I passed by a neat, city-maintained playground surrounded by live oaks. It was equipped with new, colorful, playground equipment that I’m quite certain meets the litany of safety regulations imposed upon playgrounds today.

Everything about the playground and the weather was right except for one thing. The playground was empty. Kidless.

In a blog entitled “8 Reasons Children of the 1970s Should All Be Dead” posted on June 9, Yeoman Lowbrow writes correctly if not a bit tongue in cheek: “Remember when playgrounds were fun? Sure, there was a pretty good chance you’d be scalded by a hot metal slide, or walk away with tetanus, but that’s what memories are made of.

“The ground wasn’t coated with soft recycled rubber or sand as most are today — they were asphalt,” he said. “Remember being hurled from a spinning merry-go-round, then skidding across the gravel at full speed? Good times.

“According to the New York Times, we’re asking playgrounds to be so safe that they actually stunt our kids’ development. So, while blood was spilt and concussions were dealt on the playgrounds of the 1970s, we were at least in a developmentally rich environment — and we had the bruises and scabs to prove it.”

The New York Times column Lowbrow quoted was published in July 28, 2011, by John Tierney. Tierney reported, “When seesaws and tall slides and other perils were disappearing from New York’s playgrounds, Henry Stern drew a line in the sandbox.

“As the city’s parks commissioner in the 1990s, he issued an edict concerning the 10-foot-high jungle gym near his childhood home in northern Manhattan. ‘I grew up on the monkey bars in Fort Tryon Park, and I never forgot how good it felt to get to the top of them,’ Mr. Stern said. ‘As long as I was parks commissioner, those monkey bars were going to stay.’

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