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Little Hands Playground to be built
by Dick Peterson
to The Catalyst
A proposal from Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids has earned a $60,000
grant award for the Injury-Free Coalition for Kids of Charleston to
build an Allstate Little Hands Playground in a community near MUSC.
As an Injury-Free Coalition site, the MUSC Children’s Hospital was
among 26 other Injury-Free Coalition hospitals to apply for the award
and one of four to receive it. The grant was offered by the Injury-Free
Coalition, based at Columbia University in New York City in partnership
with the Allstate Foundation.
“We here at Children’s Hospital were designated about a year ago as a
coalition site and committed to using Columbia University methods for
data collection and surveillance. We then assist the community in
providing programs to ultimately prevent injuries,” said Children’s
Hospital trauma coordinator Melanie Stroud.
She said that Harlem Children’s Hospital pediatric surgeon Barbara
Barlow, M.D., heads up the Columbia University-based program. Barlow
was able to decrease injuries among children living in the Harlem area
by 60 percent using methods now employed nationwide by Columbia’s Safe
Stroud, with Safe Kids coordinator Kristin Wedding, wrote the proposal,
which included Pediatric Emergency Department physician Joseph D.
Losek, M.D., as principal investigator.
The playground, which the Injury-Free Coalition of Charleston plans to
build in the fall, will be located at Ashley and Line streets in the
29403 ZIP code area.
“One of the reasons we chose this space on Ashley and Line streets is
because kids in the neighborhood have to cross the Crosstown (a
four-lane artery across Charleston’s lower peninsula) to get to the
closest playground,” Wedding said.
Stroud and Wedding included the City of Charleston Department of
Recreation and the Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood association
in planning the proposal. “And they helped us identify the space,”
The playground equipment, which will meet US Consumer Product Safety
Commission standards, will be purchased from Peggs Architectural and
Recreational Products Inc. under contract with the city’s Department of
Recreation. Another partner in the project is Earthforce Murals, an
organization that uses high school students to paint murals. Earthforce
will paint a mural on a building adjacent to the playground site.
Allstate Regional will provide an additional $10,000 to maintain the
playground for five years.
Wedding said that, according to Safe Kids statistics, in August of
2007, approximately 146,000 children younger than age 14 went to
emergency rooms across the country due to injuries involving playground
equipment, and that three out of four of these accidents occurred on
public playground equipment. “Also, here in Charleston County
unintentional injury continues to be the leading cause of
hospitalization and death among children 14 and under,” she said.
“That demonstrates the need to get kids to a safe playground and off
the streets,” Wedding said, “to a playground with safe equipment where
they are less likely to be injured.”
Stroud said that the playground installation in the fall will include
volunteers from MUSC and the neighborhood. Peggs employee Howard
Silverstein, a certified playground safety specialist, will work with
the city to prepare the land and supervise assembly.
A dedication is planned about a week after the installation is
Hands Playground safety injury prevention checklist
Supervise children at the
- You need to see the children you are supervising at all
- Remove necklaces and drawstrings from your child’s clothing
before they use the playground in order to avoid strangulation.
Survey the playground site
- Your child should always wear a bicycle helmet while riding
his or her bike, but he or she should remove it before playing on the
playground to avoid strangulation.
- Inspect the playground for hazards such as broken glass,
litter, sharp objects, broken equipment and for tripping hazards like
exposed concrete footings, tree stumps and rocks.
Check the equipment
- Know the type of equipment that is appropriate for your
child’s age and make sure that he or she plays on that equipment.
- Check the equipment temperature. Metal equipment,
particularly slides, can cause serious burns in hot sunny weather. They
should be in shaded areas.
- Elevated surfaces, platforms and ramps need guardrails to
- All spaces on equipment must be less than 3 ½ inches
or more than 9 inches to help your child to avoid getting his or her
- No bolt should stick out and there should be no hook that
could catch your child’s clothing. If a dime can fit through any hook
connecting swings, it is dangerous.
- Check the equipment for sharp edges or points that could
cut your child’s skin.
Examine the surfacing
- Check the playground regularly to see that the equipment is
in good condition and free of broken or missing parts. Wood equipment
should have no rot or splinters. Plastic equipment should not be
- Acceptable playground surfaces include loose-fill materials
such as wood chips, shredded rubber, sand or pea gravel. However
without consistent maintenance these surfaces can hide hazardous
materials. Loose fill should be 12 inches deep. Hard surfacing -
asphalt, concrete, dirt and grass should never be used under equipment.
Rubber tiles, mats or poured rubber are safer surfaces for your child
to play on.
- Generally, safety surface zones for equipment are six feet
in all directions in order to protect what’s called a fall zone. For
swings, the length of the fall zone should be twice the height of the
beam from which the swing hangs.
- Immediately report unsafe conditions to the owner or
operator of the playground, the principal of the school, the director
of the children’s center or director of the park.
Source: Allstate Foundation (http://www.allstate.com),
Injury Free Coalition for Kids
Friday, April 11, 2008
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