March 08, 2011

Play Haters! Kids can't play on trees

Play haterIt’s a dangerous world, and it seems that few places these days are more dangerous than your local playground. While see-saws plot to crush your children’s fingers, jungle gyms tempt them to climb to dizzying heights, and swings gleefully eject them onto potentially inadequate safety surfacing.

Now, school inspectors in New Jersey have identified yet another playground menace: trees. Yes, sadly, trees are not the friendly oxygen-giving, shade-offering specimens we have long assumed them to be. No, instead they are the bearers of “suspended hazards” (i.e. branches) that children just might run into or trip over. To eliminate this threat, the director of a rural child-care facility in Moorestown, N.J., Sue Maloney, has been ordered to remove all tree branches below 7.5 feet from the school property, or risk jeopardizing its safety record.

Maloney, who has been running Moorestown Children’s School since 1981, has never before been told that the trees pose a problem, and has long enjoyed watching children play with and around the branches. In her 30 years on the job, these branches have yet to injure a child, and she feels that removing them would be “fundamentally changing a great place for children.”

Maloney says, “As we attempt to preserve children's access to natural spaces, we also need to create a body of evidence that speaks to the reality that children are able to be safe on them.”

Maloney is on a mission to convince the inspectors to reconsider their orders, and you can help! Sign this online petition to send a message to Jane Minnella, Supervisor of Child Care Quality Assurance Inspections for the State of New Jersey’s Office of Licensing.

TreeHelp! Will someone please save this child from mortal peril?! Photo by theunquietlibrarian (cc).

Learn more about Moorestown Children's School, and learn more about this story at Free Range Kids and at Parent Central.

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