Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Teenagers Playing On Top Of Swings In New Roosevelt Island Blackwell Park Playground Raise Safety Issues For Parents Of Toddlers And Younger Children

Some Roosevelt Island parents of toddlers are disappointed with the new Blackwell Park playground because it is not as suitable for young children as the Southtown Tot Lot it replaced. They also have safety concerns for the younger children because Blackwell Park playground is being used by older children and teenagers. As reported previously by Roosevelt Island parent Avery:

it's a beautiful new park, and the shaded location is wonderful. The kids seem to be having a great time. As the mother of a soon-to-be toddler though, I'm so sad to see the old tot lot go, and I know that several other parents of toddlers feel the same. The new play structure is rated for children 5-12, and is definitely way to big for the 2-3 year olds. The only equipment for the little ones are a low swing and some balance boards, but these are not physically separated from the big kids area so are being used by the big kids, which push the little ones away. Also, we are down to only one bucket swing now, which is sad. Anyway, it's a shame that there are so many playgrounds for kids 5+ on the island, but we have lost the only one for kids 1-5. Can I hope that the old tot lot equipment will reappear somewhere else on the island?
Another reader added:
As an early childhood specialist, I can attest to the concerns of the "toddler" parents. Infants and toddlers cannot share a playground without a fenced in area protecting toddler section from older children. The older kids are just being kids. Not their fault. The fault lies with whoever designed this playground space. It appears they were cutting corners. A toddler park within a park for all ages can be done. It just takes a little more knowledge of child development and some good ole "common sense". ONE Infant/Toddler swing?? Come on! Really?!
Sarah Willard, of Blackwell Park playground developer Hudson Related, explains:
... Our goal all along was to allow a full “arc of ages” (6 months to 8/9 years old) to play in the same playground so that 1) siblings could concurrently play and that 2) a toddler would not “age out” of the playground quickly. The next playground in Blackwell Park is nowhere within visual or physical proximity of this playground—a caregiver could not safely watch a 2- year-old and a 6-year-old playing in two separate playgrounds. Even on the large play apparatus, we dialed in play equipment for pre-toddler (at the ground level), toddlers and 2-5, including one of the two slides. I sent to the RI Parents Group the specs of the toddler and 2-5 play equipment and can do that again if parents would like the information.

The tree perimeter defined how large the playground could be given that these were some of the most mature trees on the island to utilize their shade; we could not tear down trees to build the tot lot. Given the site constraints, we could only have one large play apparatus (for multiple ages) and a few smaller play devices, all with their prescribed fall zones.

It is not unusual to have children of mixed ages playing in the same park. I see this all the time where elementary school kids and toddlers are in the same City Park—often they are siblings....
Roosevelt Island parent Jamie Powell Schwartz shares these photos of teenagers playing on top of the Blackwell Park playground swings:
... as illustrative of safety concerns posed by older "children" using the playground unsupervised....
Image From Jamie Powell Schwartz

Image From Jamie Powell Schwartz

Look how dangerous this is to kids using swings


YetAnotherRIer said...

How did we all survive our own childhood without fenced-off toddler spaces on playgrounds and "age rated" play spaces? I really do not see anything unsafe in these pictures. Those kids are not out to get the smaller ones. Let them be. Oh, or maybe, interact with them. Now there is a novel idea.

I think I should start a movement to support the "un-sissification" of our children's playgrounds. It pretty much goes hand-in-hand with the concept of "Free Range" children (

Stephanie said...

I totally agree with RIer. With all the hand-wringing over this new playground, one would think some kind of real injustice was afoot.

Nally said...

YetAnotherRIer, how old are your kids or grandkids? Just a question..... Maybe you have forgotten that accidents DO happen....

YetAnotherRIer said...

Of course accidents happen. We cannot live a live so bubble wrapped because we think we have to avoid every oh so slight opportunity for getting hurt. That is called paranoia. And this is where this culture is heading towards.

CheshireKitty said...

Remember the "old-style" swings? The ones with the shiny metal seats that were so easy to slide off as the swing soared way up into the air? There were no "bucket swings" in those days! Only centrifugal force kept the kid seated.. Of course you'd have a parent there watching you - but the pavement beneath the swings was always that particularly gritty, hard asphalt you would have in playgrounds, with the cold metal monkey bars, so conducive to falling, set over the same hard pavement. Nobody wore helmets, or knee or elbow guards. Everyone perpetually had healing scabs on their knees/elbows. No-one was wrapped in a bubble - there were no child safety seats for cars even. That was life in those days -- maybe things are better today.. I don't know..