Where have all the playgrounds gone?

Where have all the playgrounds gone?

Anjali K’s ten-year-old son spends almost five hours playing games on the computer after school.

This addiction to gadgets has left her concerned. But Anjali is not the only one. Many parents are concerned that their children’s lack of physical exercise may harm them in the long run.

However, not everything can be blamed on technology alone. It’s the lack of play areas in the City that often contribute to children staying indoors, says Kavitha Krishnamoorthy, founder of Kilikili, and a concerned mother. “Children naturally like playing outdoors if there is a suitable environment. But factors like lack of playgrounds, safety concerns and bad roads have left them resorting to gadgets. This is leading to childhood obesity."

The rapid urban growth has resulted in shrinking of play spaces and children are bearing the brunt of it. Many schools in the City too lack playground facilities. “The availability of play spaces are confined to big apartments which caters to a different class of people. For the middle and lower-income children, there is no place to play at all. It’s almost like saying only rich people can play!” says Kavitha.

Due to lack of playgrounds, small spaces in the parks have become an alternative play area for children. In Kammanhalli, there used to be an open space where children could be seen playing. But that space was made into a park with beautiful landscapes and a walking track for adults. From a children’s space, it was converted into an adult space leaving only a small space for children to play.

That too is in a bad shape. “Parks cannot be substituted for playgrounds. It is important to make space for adults but not at the cost of children’s space. Lack of play area is a major social concern which needs public and government intervention,” adds Kavitha.

Rekha S, a parent says, “Now if children have to play, they have to pay and play, like in the malls, which have a dedicated play area and allow the children to play for a specific time. Children have limited spaces to play and playgrounds in public spaces have become private. Play areas are now finding alternative space like in malls or apartment.”

 A dedicated space with the required facilities based on different age groups has become the need of the hour. “The needs of the children change as they grow and the play spaces need to be divided based on different age groups of children. For example, younger children need spaces which are close to their house and where the adults can watch over them. Older children need larger spaces where they can play organised games like basket ball, football and cricket. Just giving children an open space is not sufficient. We should also give them the required facility where they can use that space effectively,” adds Kavitha.
 
Shreemaan CJ, a professional, adds, “We have play spaces for younger children but not that many for older ones. Some playgrounds have turned into garbage dumpyard or hub of illegalities which needs to be curbed.  Playgrounds should be a top priority for the BBMP and the government, which will ensure the building of a society.”

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