Vancouver-area municipality considers adding more risk to playgrounds
Published Monday, March 14, 2016 9:12AM EDT
The city of Richmond, B.C., is taking what some might consider a radical approach to updating their playgrounds, by introducing an element of risk into the design. Now, other municipalities are considering the idea.
Dad Levi Higgs watches as his son, Lochlan Higgs, 7, climbs, slides, swings and runs around the Terra Nova Adventure playground in Richmond, B.C.
The park was purposely designed to let kids take risks in a safe environment. Features of the playground include ziplines, various size swings, a rolling hill, and a rope walkway.
Levi Higgs says he really values all these design features.
"At the end of the day, you're never going to be able to protect your kids from everything that could happen to them," he told CTV Vancouver. "So you have to get them to learn how to handle themselves, and be able to pick themselves back up."
Now, local leaders in Delta, B.C., also want to bring back an element of risk as they plan an update of the Annieville playground.
Researchers say riskier play helps prepare kids for real life, and that kids who aren't allowed to take risks may show greater anxiety and depression later on.
Mariana Brussoni, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia's school of population and public health, says taking risks helps children develop.
"It's about figuring out what you're capable of," she said. "The hope is to raise a generation of kids that feel comfortable with trying new things and being creative, and feel comfortable failing."
Back in Richmond, parents of all generations appeared to agree.
"Some of the playgrounds are too safe to the point where they're boring," parent Justin Filuk said.
Grandparent Marilyn Huffer said that children can learn a lot from taking risks on the playground.
"They can climb, they can run, they can fall and get bruises, and learn how to deal with it," she said.
As for young Lochlan, he cleans up the side of his pants that have become wet after he took a tumble off the slide.
"I accidentally spun around, and I came around head-first, and there was water at the end so I just slipped," he explains, before taking off to play some more.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim