Playground StencilsSchool Safety Update – October 1998

National School Safety Center
Pepperdine University – Malibu, CA

“As a  playground supervisor at an elementary school for six years, grade school playgrounds are not for the meek!” says Janis Dingwall, Cedarhurst Elementary School, Seattle. Each year over 200,000 children are injured on school playgrounds. That is 200,000 children sustain injuries serious enough to send them to the doctor or hospital.

In 1992, E. Hale Curran Elementary schools (K-5) in Murrieta, Calif., began its own study. The school was three years old with a rapidly growing population. Its playground featured typical courts and games: hopscotch, tetherball, baseball diamonds, volleyball courts, slides, swings and climbing apparatus.

As the number of students grew, so did the injuries. In 1992, only 28 percent of the total 32 accidents resulted in visits to the doctor. By 1994, the total injuries had risen to 51, with 43 percent serious enough to warrant a doctor’s attention.

In 1995, the Peaceful Playgrounds Program was instituted at E. Hales Curran School. Every institutional aide was trained in the games and their rules.

The Murrieta Valley Unified School District’s maintenance crew painted the game markings on the blacktop and fields according to the blueprints. Every child was taught the games, the rules and a method of conflict resolution. A continuous motor skills training program designed to develop coordination and agility enhanced the children’s ability to compete successfully on the playing field.

Gerry McGuire, an instructional aide, took the first training, offered in 1995. “Since then I’ve helped teach the program to new employees, students, teachers and staffs on other campuses,” she says.

The Peaceful Playgrounds Program consists of five main components.

A blueprint for game markings – The first objective of the program is to disperse children evenly across the entire play area (black top and fields). Colorful carefully spaced marking that includes numbers, letters grids, and various geometric shapes delineate play areas. Not only are they attractive kids, they also give the playground a cheerful look of an amusement park.

A consistent set of rules – The second objective is to foster consistency and training for children and instructional aides. The rules for each game and piece of equipment are taught, posted and reviewed on a regular basis.

rock, paper, scissors game