Oregon Health & Science University and The Allstate Foundation this week are launching the construction of a new playground structure local health and school officials hope will prevent childhood injuries.
This Saturday, Aug. 20, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Portland at OHSU and The Allstate Foundation are teaming up with Portland Public Schools, community leaders and parents to build a "Little Hands" Playground at Beach Elementary School in north Portland. The playground, funded by The Allstate Foundation through a $70,000 grant, replaces an outdated wooden play structure that does not meet standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions guidelines.
More than 75 volunteers, including parents, community members, local government officials, Allstate representatives and Injury Free Coalition staff members are expected to take part in the build from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Beach Elementary School, 1710 N. Humboldt St., Portland. Volunteers will be treated to a lunch and live Pan Caribbean music from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oregon State Reps. Chip Shields and Gary Hansen, both of Portland, are slated to attend.
Construction on the playground is expected to take two days. It will be dedicated during a ceremony Sept. 16.
"Beach is one of several north Portland elementary schools that have play structures that are outdated and do not meet Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines," said Phil Engle, community coordinator and certified playground safety inspector for the Portland Injury Free Coalition for Kids. Engle, who works with schools on falls injury prevention education added, "The new playground will encourage safe, developmental and creative play among children who use it and should be a welcome sight for parents and educators at the school."
According to the Injury Free Coalition, falls are the leading cause of injuries requiring hospitalization among Oregon children 14 and younger. Data collected for the falls prevention program suggest that in the Portland Metro area playground falls cause about 31 percent of injuries in children ages 5 to 10, and about 17 percent of injuries in 11- to 14-year-olds.
Craig Warden, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of emergency medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, emphasized that parents must be involved in injury prevention as well.
"It's been found that simple issues, such as the height of playground equipment and what materials are used on the ground, are very important to preventing serious injuries to kids," said Warden, principal investigator for the Injury Free Coalition for Kids in Portland. "So while building a new playground will eliminate these issues, it's important that parents look at improving old playgrounds, too, to prevent injuries. We hope that this new playground also will help to increase children's activity, which is important in preventing the obesity that is becoming epidemic in the U.S."
According to Beach parent, Dulane Moran, "Having a safe and attractive playground is a strong symbol of support from parents and the community. It also shows our children we respect their need to have fun play spaces and feel safe."
Beach School is one of six sites around the country chosen by The Allstate Foundation to receive new and improved playground this summer as part of a $430,000 commitment announced in May. Other sites include Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Little Rock, Ark., Rochester, N.Y. and Washington, D.C. The foundation, in conjunction with the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, local hospitals and communities, has dedicated 14 new inner-city playgrounds across America.
The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by the Allstate Corporation. Allstate and The Allstate Foundation sponsor community initiatives to promote "safe and vital communities"; "tolerance, inclusion, and diversity"; and "economic empowerment." The Allstate Foundation believes in the financial potential of every individual and in helping America's families achieve their American dream.
The Injury Free Coalition for Kids is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation comprised of hospital-based, community-oriented programs anchored in research, education and advocacy that aim to reduce injuries to children and improve neighborhood safety by providing children with safe places to play. The Portland program is coordinated through OHSU's Department of Emergency Medicine, Think First Oregon and Doernbecher Children's Hospital.
OHSU is Oregon's only health and research university. As part of its multifaceted public mission, OHSU strives for excellence in scholarship, research, clinical practice and community service. OHSU includes four schools, two hospitals, numerous primary and specialty care clinics, multiple research centers and institutes and dozens of community service programs. OHSU's fundamental purpose is to improve the well-being of people in Oregon and beyond.