Each year over 200,000 children are injured on America's playgrounds*. Although some measures have been initiated to address the growing problems associated with playground safety, there has been no nationally coordinated effort in this area. In recognition of this need, the National Program for Playground Safety was created in October 1995 to help communities across the nation examine the critical issues surrounding playground safety. This National Action Plan is one of the first steps toward helping prevent many needless injuries to our children on the nation's playgrounds.
The purpose of the National Action Plan for the Prevention of Playground Injuries is to provide a blueprint for playground safety. It is designed to be used by adults who care about children. Parents, teachers, recreation and park personnel, caretakers of children, and other concerned adults all have a role in providing safe play environments.
How to use the plan
Playground safety is a complex issue. The National Action Plan is based on four goals that provide the foundation for playground safety. These goals are to:
- Provide proper supervision of children on playgrounds
- Design age-appropriate playgrounds
- Provide proper surfacing under and around playgrounds
- Properly maintain playgrounds.
Although these goals will be presented separately, each interact with one another in creating a safe play environment. This is a dynamic model. Action in achieving one goal effects the others. The plan is divided into four sections. Each section features one major goal and outlines actions to be taken to achieve the goal. Resource lists are provided at the end of each section.
To be successful and to ensure that the nation's playgrounds are safe, playground safety has to be a partnership among national, state, and local levels. This plan is developed with the assumption that different groups and individuals will participate at all three levels.
The National Level
At the national level, the plan outlines action to be taken by professional organizations such as the: American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD); Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI); National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC); National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA); National Safety Council (NSC); and Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW).
The State Level
At the state level, the plan calls for professional organizations to help provide information and education about playground safety. These state organizations may include those aligned with preschool children, schools, parks and recreation departments, teacher education, medical professionals and other concerned individuals. In addition, state governmental departments in education, natural resources and parks, health, and human services are asked to become involved in playground safety.
The Local Level
At the local level, the plan refers to community agencies and organizations. These groups include schools, park and recreation departments, child care centers, PTAs and community groups such as Kiwanis, Lion's Clubs and other nonprofit organizations. With the concerted efforts of all, the number of playground injuries can be reduced. Please help provide a safe play environment for all our nation's children.
* The use of the word "playgrounds" for this plan refers to designated areas located at public use sites such as schools, community parks and child care centers where stationary and manipulative play equipment is located to facilitate a child's physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.