Blowing off steam, having fun, climbing, jumping, skipping, running, facing and controlling risk are all necessary activities for children’s development. Children’s playgrounds have evolved through the ages in response to the needs and the demands of society.
Playgrounds through the Years
The first playgrounds appeared at the end of the 19th century with the aim of channeling the energy of young children and thus preventing crime. Friedrich Fröbel’s playgrounds were introduced in 1837 in Germany, as playgrounds equipped with toys shaped in an abstract way to facilitate movement. At the beginning of the 20th century, the first playgrounds appeared on the other side of the Rhine and in American cities in response to the idea that children needed to be strengthened and exposed to fresh air. These were large complexes with a gymnasium and stadium, which provided a place for children under the age of 7 to relax and enjoy a sandbox, slides and swings.
Reinforced Safety Standards
Playground safety legislation has become increasingly stringent since the 1980s, to the extent has considerably altered their creative approach. Starting from the 1990s, society’s deep-rooted fear of accidents and the risk of lawsuits have led to a proliferation of drastic safety standards. Sandboxes considered insufficiently hygienic were removed, guardrails tilted at an approved angle, slides lowered and rubber-coated bitumen was introduced to cushion falls. Cigarette butts have been banned from children’s playgrounds, smoking in children’s playgrounds has been prohibited since July 1, 2015.
Finally, the comfort and safety of children is ensured by small components such as bearings, present in certain equipment like swings, designed to resist UV rays and the sun and thus ensure that playgrounds do not give way under the weight of children.
Environmental friendliness is in the spotlight
Over time, playgrounds had consequently become less adapted to the changing play practices of children in search of adventure, but also to environmental requirements. Nowadays, the trend is towards discreet installations and new games made mainly of wood, without paint or solvents, perfectly integrated into their immediate environment. Flexible coverings based on industrial resin and rubber powder are increasingly giving way to more ecological paving materials. In addition to frames, swings, rockers, spring games, climbing sets and slides, climbing walls, zip lines and wooden towers are also being used. The cautious return of ropes should also be noted, as it is still difficult for children to trust themselves to know how far they can climb according to their abilities.