Many communities throughout the United States lack outdoor play space. The shortage of safe, age appropriate, and appealing play spaces available to American children is shocking. For example, in Baltimore four recreation centers will shut down at the end of the summer, officials recently announced. We need places for children to exercise and be active if we are going to combat the national childhood obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half the children in the country live in a neighborhood without a park or community center within walking distance.
This makes the remaining playgrounds even more precious. So if a neighborhood school has a playground why do so many school districts lock playgrounds, making them off-limits to tax-paying families who need a place to play?
There is a wealth of research that supports the positive outcomes of play for children, both emotionally and physically. School play spaces are community resources that should be fully utilized, especially given the soaring childhood obesity rates, so keeping playgrounds open after school hours, on weekends and over the summer can lead to healthier communities.
Are school playgrounds in your community left open for community use or locked?