Big present to keep kids safe at Coast playground

KEEPING kids safe from the sun is more important than ever and Livingstone Shire Council is leading the way with their playground shading policy.

Shading playgrounds has been a passion project for Livingstone Councillor Adam Belot over the past 12 months and he personally views it as an essential element of playground design.

"I've been working along with the council to advance a very exciting initiative to effectively shade our playgrounds at the time of design, not so much at a later stage when budget allows for it," Cr Belot.

"The best shade is natural shade but where that natural shade is not available, artificial shade is the second preferred option and now (shade) will become mandatory in our new playgrounds as we go forward.

"Just like a soft fall under a swing or a hand rail on a slide, in our climate shade is essential and when council is providing facilities, shade will be part of that facility at the construction stage rather than years down the track," he said.

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga cut the ribbon with locals at the Glenlee playground.
Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga cut the ribbon with locals at the Glenlee playground.

Cr Belot said he hoped in time Livingstone council's example would influence other councils to follow their lead including the Townsville City Council who were also going through the process towards adopting the initiative.

"To have other councils moving in the same direction is a sign that we're on the right track.

"There is only a handful of councils around Australia that actually have this and Livingstone will now be included in that handful."

Although shading a playground could cost anywhere between $10,000 to $20,000, Cr Belows said it is a popular initiative in community with families often using shade to determine where they would take their children to play.

"As we know the climate seems to be getting hotter and skin cancer statistics have been alarmingly high and if this can go some way to protecting our younger children whose skin is so sensitive, then I believe the community will believe this is a positive step forward," he said.

Cr Belot said there was a potential economic benefit with families able to spend longer at playgrounds during the hotter parts of the day and consequently spend their money supporting local businesses.

"Ultimately I think it's inevitable that this will be seen in years to come as a very sensible and mature policy, it's about changing the mindset that shade shouldn't be optional budgetary item but an essential budgetary item to provide a safe place in those council facilities."