Seattle Special Needs Playground Destroyed for “Safety’s” Sake

Readers — A playground in Seattle specially designed for kids with autism, cerebral palsy and other special needs was ordered destroyed by a bureaucrat (or bureaucrats) who declared it extremely dangerous…even though over the course of its 10 year history, no child was seriously injured on it.

You can see some pictures from the playground on, where I tdyktrydak
wrote about the case
, pointing out that:

The thing about kids with special needs is that they often have to spend a lot of time in less-than-fun institutions. Hospitals. Therapists’ offices. Waiting rooms. The “Wild Zone,” as the play area was called, was specifically “designed to provide relief from the highly controlled and often hyper-medicalized world our kids move in,” writes Bullard.

Bullard is the mom who brought the issue to my attention. Here is the piece she wrote about the Wild Zone that will make you wild, too — with frustration. I’m just hoping that as these cases come to public attention, and outrage, the bureaucrats will have to think twice before pressing the DESTRUCT button. – L.

Is that a child having fun???

Is that a child having fun? Here I come!

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19 Responses to Seattle Special Needs Playground Destroyed for “Safety’s” Sake

  1. BL November 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Could they then bulldoze the Seattle Parks Department?

    Seriously, that playground looks ten times safer than any playground I used as a kid. And I don’t remember anyone being hurt beyond the “boo-boo” level.

  2. Emily Morris November 13, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    So who complained and got them worried?

  3. J.T. Wenting November 14, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    “So who complained and got them worried?”

    probably a manufacturer of playground equipment. Those are constantly trying to to push new “safe” playground stuff with tales of how unsafe the old stuff is, and how the city could end up sued for billions “if something happens”.

    Add in an unhealthy dose of corporate lawyers and insurance consultants ensuring those decision makers that they stand to lose such lawsuits and insurance won’t cover it “because you were warned”…

  4. Jenny Islander November 14, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    I hope this is a unicorn chaser. I’ve posted before about my old elementary school, where they replaced the “unsafe” and “unproductive” play equipment with exercise stations when I was in 5th grade and then got confused about why moss was growing on the handbars by the end of that year. They also forbade us to play in the adjoining forested property belonging to the nearby hospital and care center, because of mad snatchers.

    The exercise stations are gone and the dangerous and unproductive slides and tetherball poles are back. And kids get to play in the woods again!

  5. Blue November 14, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    I have visited the Wild Zone with my kids and thought it was fantastic, full of the unexpected and delightful, as opposed to the sterilized Kompan playgrounds that the city keeps building. So bummed to hear this.

  6. Lance Mitaro November 14, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    America sure does have it’s fair share of child “safety” fanatics. What am I saying? The pot boileth over!

  7. Ben November 14, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    Instead of a whole list of rules at the entrance or some fear of litigation, can’t they just put up a sign that says “Play here at your own risk” and leave it at that? If they can’t be held liable, it’s up to parents and kids to decide what is safe.

  8. Ben November 14, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    Also, have they got any idea how much damange destroying a playground does to the welfare and mental health of the autistic kids it serves?

    If I was one of the parents involved, I’d sue the city/parks department for the mental anguish of my child just to make them think about their decisions.

  9. marie November 14, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    So who complained and got them worried?

    Ha. Whose brother-in-law sells playground equipment?

  10. lollipoplover November 14, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    “The Journal of Pediatrics posits that “…stricter licensing codes intended to reduce children’s injuries on playgrounds [have] rendered playgrounds less physically challenging and interesting.”

    And the crisis puts kids in front of TV’s and video games instead of physically playing and interacting with other children. Playgrounds should be FUN and worthy of a visit. The new surfaces and up to code playgrounds will still have injuries. Kids are amazingly good at finding ways to injury themselves even on safe surfaces.
    Our favorite neighborhood playground was torn apart (RIP monkey bars, zip lines, tire swings) to meet safety codes. My kids never want to go there (think it’s all *baby* stuff now)even though it has beautiful running trails (for me) and is a central meeting spot. Parks should attract kids. They need places to play outdoors that are actually fun.

  11. Tiny Tim November 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Probably best the see-saw has been stricken from the landscape, but otherwise it’s all so weird. If you’re worried about safety of your kids, stop driving them places.

  12. EricS November 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    @Ben: “Instead of a whole list of rules at the entrance or some fear of litigation, can’t they just put up a sign that says “Play here at your own risk” and leave it at that? If they can’t be held liable, it’s up to parents and kids to decide what is safe.”

    That would be waaay too much common sense for them. Might hurt their brains trying to get their heads wrapped around that concept. They would rather make children’s lives that much more miserable, and spend more money tearing the playground down, then to what you suggested.

  13. J- November 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    As someone with special needs, I deeply offended. This was a special place for these children and the city robbed them of it.

    I hope the parents of the children affected by this remind the public what the city government did at the next city government election.

    If that doesn’t work, I humbly suggest tar and feathers.

  14. Papilio November 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    How is this not in the category of kicking puppies and stealing bottles from babies?

  15. Warren November 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    You know if I was do things all over, but in this day and age, I would have to seriously think about whether or not I want to brind kids into this world.

    Adults don’t want kids playing street ball, street hockey, in their front yards, or backyards, and yet they continually tear down playgrounds, and severely restrict park use.

    Kids cannot be kids anymore. They have to be mini adults, and expected to act as such.

  16. Emily November 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    This is just crazy. I was born in 1984, and when I was a child, playground equipment was made of wood (splinters!!!) metal (slide burns!!!), chains (pinch points!!!), and old tires. Park staples included monkey bars and high slides that could be fallen from, baby swings with safety bars that slid up and down and could pinch fingers, merry-go-rounds (again, fall hazard), swings (don’t get me started), and of course the Twirlybird, which was just a pole with a spindle on top with a chain coming down, and a handle attached to the chain. In order to ride the Twirlybird, you’d grab the handle firmly, then run in a circle around the sand pit surrounding the pole, keeping the chain taut, and then lift your feet and “fly” for a few seconds. It was a lesson in physics, and the prize for getting it right was not suffering brain damage at the hands of a metal pole. Okay, I’m being a bit sarcastic here, because it wasn’t that dangerous. Parents or older kids helped younger kids figure it out, and the ones who weren’t ready just treated it like a Maypole. We got around the slide burn issue by wearing long pants to the park, or tucking our knees into our chests to slide if we forgot, or forgoing the slide altogether on hot days. Either way, it was our problem to solve, and we did. Back then, it wasn’t so much a question of “dangerous playground equipment,” but more like, “Try it again when you’re older/taller/stronger/more co-ordinated.” Nowadays, the solution is to dumb everyone down to toddler level.

  17. Jenny Islander November 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    @Emily: I’m happy to say that this isn’t the case everywhere. Our local parks & rec department went to plastic and coated metal for its equipment because Subarctic weather is hell on wooden stuff, and bare metal is nearly always either too hot or too cold in this climate. But the slides are higher than anything they had when I was a kid, there are tons of things to climb–upside down even!–and daredevil stairs and tunnels and fake rock walls and (this is very smart) caves on the curved underside of the rock walls where kids can get out of the rain and play explorer, and a big steel merry-go-round right in the middle because they know that kids love it. And the rocket sliders! Man, I wish they’d had those when I was a kid. You hang on to this torpedo-shaped thing, kick off of a platform, and go zooming along a big metal bar to another platform.

    But the teeter-totters are dead and gone, and nobody misses them.

  18. BL November 14, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    “Kids cannot be kids anymore. They have to be mini adults, and expected to act as such.”

    How so? Adults can still do things way, way riskier than that playground (such as bungee jumping).

    It’s more like “kids cannot be kids, nor can they be adults”.

  19. Jim Collins November 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    It is a shame that some parents won’t accept “Play at your own risk.” Neither will their lawyers and the Courts.