Playground surfacing was the biggest problem. Almost one in four of these playgrounds didn't have proper surfacing, which should be either a uniform surface made from rubber or other energy-absorbing material or loose-fill wood chips.
"If a playground is done correctly with the appropriate surfacing, when a climbing child overreaches and falls, he or she can just get up and brush themselves off, rather than paying the price of a broken bone or a traumatic brain injury," Smith explained.
The study found that in playgrounds with a loose-fill surface, most didn't have the recommended 9 to 12 inches of fill in place. But nearly all of the playgrounds did have cover over the concrete footings used to secure playground equipment, and provided a 6-foot use zone of soft surfacing.
Rust or peeling paint was a significant problem at about two-thirds of the playgrounds.
The researchers also found that in areas where more children live, there were more failing playgrounds, yet fewer playgrounds overall.
Similarly, neighborhoods with a larger percentage of the population living below the poverty level had more failing playgrounds, and fewer playgrounds overall. Areas with more blacks had more failing playgrounds, and areas with more Hispanics had fewer playgrounds, according to the study.
Sheehan said that a lack of money might be an issue in some of these communities, although she said the parks district was working on parks in all areas. In some cases, she said, the lack of available playgrounds has to do with the areas. There may be a lot of industrial buildings and not a lot of free space. If industrial areas are abandoned, some may be contaminated, she noted.
Editorial author Smith said inc
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