Let kids be kids: As new playground equipment is made safer, injury numbers remain constant

By Rosy Weiser
Santa Cruz Sentinel

On a recent morning at the Bay View Elementary School playground, a small group of kindergarten boys is racing around enjoying an impromptu recess.

The twisty slide is a focal point on this day, and as the boys clamber on and off like excited monkeys, not one of them is remembering the rules.

"On your bottom," shouts Sue Helms, a teacher's assistant, over and over again. "Don't climb up. That's not safe. If I see you do that again, I'm going to have to sit you out," she cautions, clearly frazzled by the daunting task of corralling and controlling such an energetic group.

Her tallest order is to enforce the "no running" rule in the concrete play area.

"It's almost impossible to get them to stop running. That's where their natural instincts are, to run. I try to get them to skip or to gallop instead," Helm said.

Such rules are part of a popular and decade-long movement nationwide to reduce injury rates by taming play in public places.

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