Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Children play on the playground in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. Whittier Elementary school fifth-graders studied statistics on playground injuries and concluded that rules regarding safety were exactly what was needed.
Whittier kids don’t chicken out on playground safety
Recess » Students research safe schoolyard play, find recess rules reasonable.
First Published Jun 12 2012 07:56 am • Last Updated Sep 11 2012 11:34 pm

Whittier Elementary students understand the importance of playground safety. The days of hot metal slides, swing-set back flips and monkey-bar chicken fights are over.

Yearly, 2,300 Utah children suffer an injury on public school fields, a statistic that raised concern with one group of fifth-graders at Whittier Elementary School.

At a glance

What’s OK, what’s not

Activities that are not permitted at recess at many Salt Lake City schools include dodgeball, throwing snowballs and football.

The top five injuries reported included possible fracture/broken bone, cut/laceration, bump/bruise/contusion, sprain/strain/tear, and possible concussion.

Only 30 percent of Whittier Elementary School students felt the recess rules should be changed.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Whittier student Justin Crowley said he and the rest of the class felt that many activities were being taken away from them. For example, the entire Salt Lake City School District chose to remove all swings from elementary schools because of injury risk and cost of maintenance.

Instead of simply accepting the adult administrators’ reasoning, the class did its own research to determine if playgrounds were indeed as dangerous as the students had heard. The statistics were enough to leave the entire class convinced.

"Our school’s recess rules are exactly what they should be," said Darrell Chang, a Whittier student. "The rules are in place to keep us out of harm’s way."

The students learned that the majority of injuries came on the playground area, with a significant portion — 26 percent — on monkey bars. Running was the second most injurious activity at 21 percent. The research helped the children understand why activities such as playing tag, climbing on top of the monkey bars and chicken fights are banned throughout the district.

Jenny Johnson, a liaison to the Utah Department of Health’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program, emphasized that the goal is to allow children as many avenues for play and exercise as possible. While it was found that swings were more negative than positive, other equipment contributed to the overall health of Salt Lake City students.

"We want kids to be active and to have fun and enjoy these things," Johnson said. "We are in no way saying to take out playgrounds or other apparatuses. That’s not our call. We want to provide insight to make recess safer without limiting enjoyment."

Johnson said the two most important factors to consider at recess or even in backyards are proper supervision and better surface materials. She used the example of backyard swing sets often placed directly on the grass. The program recommends about 9 to 12 inches of material. Rubber mulch is best, though even gravel is less harmful than a direct fall on the lawn.

"You don’t often think what material is considered safe or realize what isn’t," Johnson said. "That’s why it’s important that the schools work closely with the local health department and go through inspections and find areas they can improve on."

story continues below
story continues below

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.