We all learn through play and that great adventure begins in a healthy and active childhood. It is not as common these days for children to be off gallivanting through woodland thickets, paddling in babbling brooks or playing pooh sticks off bridges. As idyllic as the image is, unsupervised wanderings are a thing of the past with growing urbanisation and increased traffic on the roads. Instead, garden and school play equipment is the playground of adventurous and energetic little tykes.
The benefits of having outdoor play equipment are in the health statistics of the children. We have all heard the warnings of children becoming couch potatoes, being glued to the computer or games console. The warnings abound of an increase in childhood obesity and diabetes are in the newspapers daily and are ringing loud bells for health conscious parents. The solution starts at home with adventure equipment to scramble over, under, through and round; and can be carried on at school or playgroup with larger versions of the multi faceted climbing frames available.
Long gone are the cold and painted tubular steel frames over concrete. Play equipment available now is made from warming wood that has a chance of blending in with the surroundings. The variety of activities is amazing too. Scramble nets, slides, tubes and tunnels complement swings and rope bridges. Hidey holes and huts sit like penthouse tree houses above the sandpits and paddling pools. Yes, life for the little ones is definitely looking up.
I remember in my youthful days that playgrounds were few and far between and many of them ended up on an Esther Rantzen programme after some poor child had broken an arm, stuck under a roundabout. Another common cause of childhood breakages was cracked heads from children falling from climbing frames onto concrete. Safety issues such as these have been well and truly addressed and there isn't even the chance of a trapped finger on today's frames of fun. Public playgrounds are a costly affair, and one many parishes cannot foot the bill for.
Providing for a local community is a governmental priority and many councils run schemes that help with funding toward community playground projects. Often, in urban regeneration areas, grants are available for adventure playgrounds. Lottery grants are also available to fund projects. For schools, playgroups, hospitals and the like, there is plenty of information out there on fundraising. Information packs for PTA committees are available from suppliers of outdoor adventure equipment.
Learning through Landscapes offers support with research and implementing the promotion of playtime. They provide training and have developed programmes that aide the early years age group. The Playground Partnerships Award is run by the chain store Woolworths. The charity aims to help primary schools give existing play areas a face lift, or to start projects from scratch. Awards for all is part of the lottery heritage fund and are available for projects that promote healthy community living, the environment and education. If you are an employee of the Royal Bank of Scotland than you are able to nominate a school for to receive funding for improvements. There are many other schemes available, and a quick search online will help locate charities or organisations that can help.
On a smaller scale, investing in a hardwearing and safe play area at home is economic sense. A family home that is going to see many children raised there will benefit greatly from a sturdy timber framed kid's kingdom. Sibling rivalry will become sibling reverie and will last for generations of fun.
Shaun Parker is a leading recreation expert with many years of experience in the childrens playarea industry. Find out more about outdoor play equipment for home, playgroup or community project at Timber Line.