The National Program for Playground Safety has recently created the John Preston Safe Playground Award. This annual award is in honor of John Preston, a tireless worker for the safety of children, and will be given annually to an organization or agency who exemplifies the care and concern for children by creating safe play environments!
The second annual John Preston Playground Safety Award was given to Lee's Summit R-7 School District in Lee's Summit, Missouri. The journey into playground safety for the Lee's Summit R-7 School District (Lee's Summit, Missouri) began in early 2000 when newly hired Environmental / Risk Manager, Mark White, evaluated the loss exposures for the school district and found that a significant number of students were being injured on the playgrounds. Armed with statistics on these injures he went before the Superintendent and Board of Education and asked if such losses were "normal" for the District? Support was immediately given to form the "Playground Safety Initiative" (PSI) and to send Mr. White to the NPPS Playground Safety School. A total of 5 District personnel have participated in Playground Safety School and completed the S.A.F.E. Certification.
Since 2000, White and the R-7 School District's PSI team have received local, regional and national attention as a success story for keeping children safe on the playgrounds of public schools. By incorporating the NPPS four cornerstone concepts (S.A.F.E.) into district best practices and procedures the frequency and severity of playground injuries have decreased an average of 27% over the past 6 years. Old, outdated and non-compliant (CPSC) equipment has been removed. Newer, more age-appropriate equipment has been installed. Improvements in loose-fill surfacing have been made as well as on-going preventative maintenance program. The District has recently incorporated S.A.F.E. into its Standard Facility Guidelines (SFG) for Playgrounds. This will ensure that all future playground renovations and new playgrounds in the District will have safety as the first objective.
Supervision training has been one of the main keys to their success. Annual training and on going coaching of Playground Supervisors conducted by S.A.F.E. Certified District personnel has been crucial to their success towards lower injury accidents to students. NPPS training materials are used for new "rookie" supervisors as well as seasoned "veterans." The "Safe Playground of the Year" award is presented annually to the elementary school with the best record. One school in particular, Underwood Elementary, has won the award twice in a row with only 2 accidents reported in 2 years. Underwood is on the way to earning the award again this year.
The success achieved by the Lee's Summit R-7 School District has been a team effort. Administrators, staff and support departments have all contributed to making their playgrounds an asset rather than a liability. NPPS is extremely proud to honor the Lee's Summit R-7 School District with the John Preston Playground Safety Award!