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District Phasing Out Swingsets, Citing Safety Concerns

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A Washington state school district plans to remove swing sets from playgrounds due to safety concerns.

Earlier this month, the Richland School District, in Washington, announced its plans to eventually remove swings from school playgrounds. There are only two swingsets left at elementary school playgrounds, and those are expected to be phased out in the next five years. While some news sources have called it a "ban," it's not actually because of a legal edict.

In the past decade, the district has been slowly replacing playground equipment, and in the process has not put in new swing sets. Richland School District spokesperson Steve Aagard points to the unsafe nature of swings as the reason to phase out the equipment.

"Swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground," he said. "It's a litigation issue, with kids falling off swings."

The other issue would be the students who might wander into the path of swinging children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 200,000 children are admitted annually to the emergency room for injuries sustained on a playground, and swings make up about 40 percent of playground-related injuries.

Some parents lament the death of what they see as a childhood playground symbol. Richland resident Gail Thorricellas told Komonews that she loved playing on swings as a child.

"They were our great joy, and we all played on them," she said. "I truly can't remember anyone being hurt."

Other parents are happy to see the swings go. Parent Muge Kaineoz has a daughter at a Richland school and is glad she doesn't have to worry about swing-related injuries

"When she starts elementary school, those swings can get crazy," she said. Kaineoz added that she once witnessed a toddler walk in front of a moving swing. "By the time you could do something about it, she was knocked out."

Image by Loren Kerns/Flickr Creative Commons. 

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