Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Playgrounds in city fast disappearing

Playgrounds in city fast disappearing

Chitra V. Ramani
‘Parks in the city are basically for adults; not children’
There are 154 playgrounds and 916 parks in Bangalore

Many schools in the city do not have playgrounds

— PHOTO: K. GOPINATHAN

FUN TIME: Children being themselves at the Bal Bhavan.
Bangalore: Shashikala P. is a worried mother. Her 10-year-old daughter Pragna M. spends much of her free time watching television and rarely goes out to play with neighbourhood children. “Even when she is out playing with her friends, I am worried because of the traffic on the road. The area we live in does not have a playground and children have no option but to play on the street,” she says.

Parents often complain about children spending long hours either playing video games or watching television, but do not often stop to think about the limited entertainment options the city has to offer. However, most of them do complain about the disappearance of play spaces for children.

Unreal experiences
Says Deepthy C.S., a teacher at a private school: “Children are fed with make-believe and pretend lives as there is not much live experience that they can participate in. There are camps, workshops and theatre activities; but these are exclusive. A small percentage of the city’s children actually get to participate.”

This is endorsed by Divya Narayanappa, Administrative Officer of Jawahar Bal Bhavan. “We organise several camps, weekend classes and summer programmes for children. However, the number of children actually enrolling in these activities has been steadily decreasing, though the number of visitors to Bal Bhavan’s playground has seen no change.”

According to BBMP officials, there are 154 playgrounds and 916 parks in Bangalore city now.

Of these parks, as many as 272 are being developed and civil works have been taken up.

Parks, street corners, backyard gardens that used to provide such delight to children have now stopped being resources for play and joy. Kavitha Krishnamoorthy, founder of Kilikili, and her team are striving to create play spaces in the city that are accessible to all children.

‘Play is important’
“Play is important for children. However, instead of neighbourhood playgrounds, we now have parks with manicured lawns and paved walkways. The parks in the city are basically for adults; not children. Adults in these parks would not appreciate it if children ran around, making noise and having fun,” Ms. Krishnamoorthy points out.

Many schools in the city, especially the newer ones, do not have playgrounds. “Children are not allowed to be their age, what with competition in schools and parents wanting their wards to excel in all areas. Everything has become goal-oriented and children are not allowed to enjoy their childhood,” she laments.

Kilikili has designed two disabled-friendly parks — Coles Park and Gayatri Devi Park, Rajajinagar. In these parks, conventional play equipment such as the see-saw and swings have been fitted with bucket seats to help disabled children use them without fear.

“We are working on making a few parks in Jayanagar, Jeevanbimanagar, Whitefield, First Block Koramangala and M.N. Krishna Rau Park disabled-friendly,” she adds.

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