Risky play and treehouses

As architects we often get frustrated by building codes. Finnish building codes are strict, and cut in stone, there are no excuses made. A step higher than 40-50 cm; has to have a safety rail of 90 cm high. Apple trees in apartment building gardens; forbidden, raw apples can be toxic if consumed in huge quantities (and I mean HUGE). A staircase cannot be too narrow or too steep – ever. Etc, etc. By all these rules we think we make the world safer. But is safety first right? We are actually by eliminating risk, also eliminating part of life, and the process of learning. Learning gives you joy and confidence. And arent small risks so much more fun than someone telling you “play NOW!”.//aito


Kids need the adventure of ‘risky’ play

A major study says parents harm their children’s development if they ban tree-climbing

A major study by Play England, part of the National Children’s Bureau, found that half of all children have been stopped from playing; climbing trees, playing conkers or taking part in games of tag or chase. Some parents are going to such extreme lengths to protect their children from danger that they have even said no to hide-and-seek.

‘Children are not being allowed many of the freedoms that were taken for granted when we were children,’ said Adrian Voce, director of Play England. ‘They are not enjoying the opportunities to play outside that most people would have thought of as normal when they were growing up.’

Voce argued that it was becoming a ‘social norm’ for younger children to be allowed out only when accompanied by an adult. ‘Logistically that is very difficult for parents to manage because of the time pressures on normal family life,’ he said. ‘If you don’t want your children to play out alone and you have not got the time to take them out then they will spend more time on the computer.’

Voce pointed out how irrational some of these decisions were. Last year, almost three times as many children were admitted to hospital after falling out of bed as those who had fallen from a tree.

The tendency to wrap children in cotton wool has transformed how they experience childhood. According to the research, 70 per cent of adults had their biggest childhood adventures in outdoor spaces among trees, rivers and woods, compared with only 29 per cent of children today. The majority of young people questioned said that their biggest adventures took place in playgrounds.

Voce said Play England was determined to spread the message that children ought to be taking risks and that it is ‘not the end of the world if a child has an accident’. The latest study will be launched on Wednesday to coincide with Play Day, when hundreds of events will take place across the country to celebrate children’s right to play. It will show that play providers also feel the opportunities for children to ‘test and challenge themselves in play involving a level of risk’ have reduced over the past decade. They blame overcautious health and safety officers and the fear of litigation if children have accidents.

link> The Guardian


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