September 29, 2010

Play Haters! Recess too noisy, neighbors say

Play HaterWhen two women from Douglas, Mich. set out to close the playground at the Early Childhood Center next to their home, we thought we’d heard it all. Unfortunately, we hadn’t.

Across the pond, administrators at the Barlby Community Primary School are canceling afternoon recess and banning hard ball in response to complaints from neighbors. These neighbors contacted the environmental health department to express their concerns about “excessive noise.”

Perhaps this comes as a surprise to some, but when kids play outdoors with other kids, they have a tendency to laugh, sing, shout, scream, and sometimes cry. Which begs the question: Does the average Barlby student—or for that matter, the average preschooler in Douglas, Michigan—shout more excessively than your average child?

We doubt it. And what’s most puzzling is that Barlby Community Primary has been around for 100 years, which means that the disgruntled neighbors knowingly moved next to a school.

To deprive children of afternoon recess for the sake of 30 more minutes of peace and quiet strikes us as downright selfish. As Laky Sahota of Play England told the BBC, the move is not “focused on the best interest of the child. They are not considering how important play is.”

School administrators are not happy about their decision but feel they are at a loss. In an attempt to maintain good will with the surrounding community, they had already erected an expensive sound-proof fence, but some neighbors continued to gripe.

Others in the community are disgusted by the unending complaints. Elaine Spooner, who lives nearby and has grandchildren at Barlby, told The York Press, “There’s nothing as nice as hearing kids play.” We couldn’t agree more.

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