Every Kid Healthy Week is a national observance for the last week of April which was launched last year in response to the dramatic rise in childhood obesity. The goal is to raise awareness and help create healthier kids by creating a healthier school environment. An important and fun place to increase physical activity within the school day is on the playground.
Playgrounds allow children to explore, learn and grow. From developing shoulder girdle strength by crossing the monkey bars alone to expanding their imagination in the sand box digging and designing castles and moats, the playground is an excellent place for children to learn and grow.
But there are potential dangers hidden within this children’s paradise. Many children love the feeling they get when gliding down the slide. New parents may be fearful to let their toddler attempt the slide solo. Frequently, parents think their child is safer riding down the slide sitting on a parent’s lap. However, this very often results in a trip to the emergency room. Parents- don’t make this mistake! When a toddler sits on top of your lap as you ride down, their foot can get caught between your leg and the edge of the slide resulting in a broken leg. Toddlers tend to break their bones more than they sprain an ankle on the slide due to the added weight and speed of the parent pressing on the child’s leg when his sneaker gets stuck along the side of the slide.
It’s better to allow children to ride alone with close supervision and instructions on how to ride down safely. The family will enjoy the playground a whole lot more without a trip to the emergency room and a leg in a cast. Staying active and eating right, while having fun, is the best way to stay healthy this spring season.
Corinne Slevin is a doctor of physical therapy and Clinical Supervisor at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center within Hospital for Special Surgery’s Lerner Children’s Pavilion. She is certified with the Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association.