Pull into River Road Park in Bainbridge and you’ll see sports fields, a scoreboard, a pavilion, ample parking, a 1-mile walking trail and a playground. All these amenities look inviting to leisure seekers, except the area for the very youngest. The playground for children at River Road Park is wrapped in a plastic barrier with a big sign stating, “Equipment out of service. Keep off.”

So, does the township replace the 15-year-old playground or just take it down?

That’s the question Bainbridge Township Trustees want residents to answer.

During a recent public discussion with members of the Bainbridge Park Committee, trustees asked, “Do children still use playgrounds?”One trustee said children just don’t go outside to play anymore.

We disagree.

Sure, there are computer games, but kids still like to ride bikes, use skateboards, shoot hoops and, yes, play on playgrounds. Drive by any well-maintained playground after school or on a weekend, and it often will be teeming with boys and girls.

Playgrounds are important for a number of reasons. Albert Einstein once said that play is the highest form of research.

Play is good for both the mind and body. Scientific studies on the impact of playgrounds show that play has a positive influence on the development of children. Swings teach children to grasp, balance, jump, push and land. The equipment allows them to build their cardiovascular endurance, in a fun way. Children physically active at a young age are likely to be active as adults. Climbing jungle gyms promotes upper body strength, visual perception, coordination and problem-solving skills. It stokes the imagination as children create games and stories. While ascending the jungle gym, children might imagine scaling a mountain or a tall building, just like a superhero. To you they are just swinging, but in their mind, they might be flying through the air on a great adventure. Play also provides interactions with other children, which promotes important social skills.

A properly maintained playground is a safe place for children to learn, explore, stretch their imaginations and just play.

Trustees talked about ways to pay for a playground, which could be as much as $200,000 with all the necessary safety and building standards. They discussed getting sponsors or volunteers to build it. Relying on volunteers will take a lot of time, maybe too much time. But this could be pursued. Matching grants for outdoor recreational equipment are available.

Then there is the possibility of setting aside some tax dollars for a project.

One quick action trustees must take is dismantling the old playground that is filled with safety risks. Fences don’t always keep children away.

Giving children a safe place to swing and climb and play is the right place to spend community dollars. We encourage residents to share their views by contacting township trustees through the township website at bainbridgetwp.com/contact-us or by calling the town hall at 440-543-9871.

We say yes to building a new playground. Children at play – that’s a sound that we all want to encourage.

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