Don’t bother bringing a plastic shovel when you head to a San Francisco playground anymore. The city is getting rid of all its sand at all its local playgrounds.
You know why. Of course you do.
According to this report by Christin Ayers at KCBS, the city regards sandboxes as unsafe. Suddenly. Connie Chan, a spokeswoman for Rec and Parks (which sounds backwards) says that, “We often face issues such as sharp objects, broken glass, even cat feces in our sandboxes throughout our playgrounds.”
Joe Frost, a professor who has written 19 books on play and playgrounds, once had his grad students call up doctors around the country to see if any had treated a child for a disease or parasite picked up in the sandbox, and none had.
The other no-more-sand justification Ayers said the department gave was that, “Back in 2015, vandals trashed Delores Park’s playground, leaving dozens of bottles strewn in the sand. So Recreation and Parks made a choice to start phasing out all of the city’s sandboxes.”
Which is sort of like deciding to start phasing out all the city’s puppies after one bit a Parks and Rec worker. I’m sure it was no fun for the department to deal with the vandalization, but now the vandals have won. That was easy! A few dozen bottles and they have changed the course of childhood for an entire city.
Sand is more than just fun, it’s actually educational. That’s why so many pre-k’s have sand tables. As Early Childhood News explains:
Why Play in Sand?
There is no right way to use sand. It invites participation; it permits children to make and test hypotheses; it stretches the imagination; it provides a potentially soothing sensory experience; and it is an excellent avenue for children to learn physical, cognitive, and social skills.
Because sand play is open-ended, the child determines the direction and path of his or her own play. This freedom then clears the way for the child to build developmental concepts.
But of course it shouldn’t require a thesis on “The Stimulatory Effects of Particulate Matter on Fine Motor Skills” for a city department devoted to RECREATION, for gosh’ sake, to realize that sand is a wonderful thing for kids. (And a terrible thing for dinner. But some disagree.)
We can make childhood so safe that kids turn right around at the park and go back home to make pixilated sand castles. I guess that would make Rec and Parks even happier — so many fewer “issues.”