Playgrounds have certainly developed a lot since I was a child in the 1970s.
I remember swings, seesaws, concrete mounds with tunnels running through them, and a few metal poles to climb.
Not that we complained though; we were very happy with what we had.
Today’s playgrounds have some new elements that add to the overall experience.
A huge amount of thought and planning goes into the design and creation of these.
Parents and grandparents with young children tend to become playground connoisseurs, constantly on the lookout for new developments.
Some of the excellent features of Hamilton’s newest playgrounds include a range of activities for fine and gross motor skills, water science, climbing options, a generous amount of seating and shade cloth, drinking fountains, natural colour-schemes, native plants, appropriate use of astroturf, fantasy role playing, and scooter/bike tracks around the perimeter.
Keeping youth healthy
Hamilton has more than 80 playgrounds on parks within the city limits.
When IT IS imperative to get the children out of the house, these can be a lifesaver.
Quality playgrounds invoke a sense of adventure, provide a social atmosphere, and help keep our precious young ones active and healthy.
Due to Hamilton City Council prioritising playground development over the past few years, I believe we have some of the best playgrounds in New Zealand.
The team does a fantastic job designing, building and maintaining the important community meeting places.
My children enjoy the scientific aspects of modern playgrounds.
These provide opportunities for problem-solving, creativity, teamwork and social development.
Building team spirit
As a parent, I do not believe in removing all risks from our children, but rather teaching them to manage the risks.
I am still a fan of the old-fashioned fort, such as Parana Park used to have.
Forts create opportunities for role-playing, tag, climbing, and exploring.
We must encourage our children and grandchildren to think critically, problem solve, and manage themselves. This helps prepare them for life.
Only by exposure to potential risk can they create an understanding of, and develop the skills to control and manage risk.
At some point they will be driving a 1.5-ton piece of metal on our roads – they certainly need to know how to identify and negotiate potential dangers.
The access to clean toilets is also vital; particularly for those with preschoolers.
I believe that playgrounds have a key role in the development of our youngsters.
As a child, I vividly remember the freedom that came from climbing as high as I could, gazing out upon ‘My Kingdom,’ and feeling like I was on top of the world.
If the current Hamilton City Council investment in local playgrounds continues, we are serving our children and grandchildren well.
Jamie Strange is a teacher at the Berkley Middle School, Hamilton and Labour Party’s Candidate in Hamilton East in the forthcoming general election on September 23, 2017.
Photo: Hamilton Gardens playground is among the latest facilities for children
(Photo Courtesy: Hamilton City Council)