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Little Hands Playground to be built

by Dick Peterson
Special 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 Kids Coalition.
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,” Wedding said.
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 complete.

Little Hands Playground safety injury prevention checklist
Supervise children at the playground
  • You need to see the children you are supervising at all times.
  • Remove necklaces and drawstrings from your child’s clothing before they use the playground in order to avoid strangulation.
  • 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.
Survey the playground site
  • 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 prevent falls.
  • 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 head stuck.
  • 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.
  • 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 cracked.
Examine the surfacing
  • 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 (,
Injury Free Coalition for Kids

Friday, April 11, 2008
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