It’s not news that childhood obesity is an increasing concern in America or that one undeniable part of a comprehensive strategy against child obesity is to get our kids outside and moving more than they do today
Let’s Move!, the comprehensive government initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, says children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight. On the other hand, children between eight 18 years old spend an average of 7.5 hours a day on entertainment like the TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies.
In response, communities nationwide are searching for ways to build new play areas that are not only safe and inviting, but are also environmentally friendly, water-wise and easy to maintain. There’s even a non-profit organization solely dedicated to “saving play for America’s children.” Since its founding in 1996, KaBOOM! has mapped over 85,000 places to play in the United States, built more than 2,000 playgrounds and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities.
Synthetic lawns like NewGrass® have proved to be one solution for community organizations, schools, cities and families searching for a way to provide play areas for children that are:
- Safe for kids of all ages (especially when installed with a cushioned underlining)
- Free of the dirt, mud and rocks associated with traditional gravel playgrounds
- Allergen- and weed-free
- Maintained without pesticides or insecticides
- Green and available for activity any time of the year
- Water-wise, requiring no watering the way turf grass does
- Easy to maintain, with just an occasional cleaning off with a rake, leaf blower or “washing” with the garden hose
Combined with their durability and being “live” year-round, artificial grasses are becoming popular alternatives for many schoolyards, playgrounds and backyards. This is especially true where natural grass simply can’t grow or has been worn down to the dirt through repeated use.
“The year-round use of NewGrass combined with its safety and eco-friendly features are key reasons it has been installed by schools, day care centers and similar facilities nationwide, giving more children access to place where they can get outside and get physically active,” said Greg Goehner, NewGrass president.
One of the biggest challenges to getting children moving is providing safe play areas. More than 500,000 children a year are injured on playground equipment, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. About 150,000 of these injuries are considered serious, with an average of 15 children dying each year in playground accidents.
“Another important statistic,” Goehner said, “is that three-fourths of playground injuries are attributed to falls. So choosing an appropriate surface is the most important playground decision that school officials will make. We believe the same is true when it comes to considering a surface for a play area at home.”
In fact, about one-fourth of all serious playground injuries occur in the backyard, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Artificial lawns usually have a backing of rubber latex or similar material. NewGrass® has a primary backing layer of urethane and a secondary backing of polypropylene. It also offers BioCel™ with recycled PET plastic incorporated into the backing systems. PET plastic is recycled from soft drink, water and juice bottles, identified by the #1 code on or near the bottom of the container.
Another playground culprit is the dust and dirt that a typical schoolyard can create, especially if its natural grass has been worn down. A schoolyard with natural turf can also spawn allergens. Allergies have no cure. An obvious option is synthetic grass.
NewGrass®, for example, has fibers that are broadloom-tufted from high-quality polyethylene, which is not considered an allergen.
The Dobson Academy, in Chandler, Ariz., chose NewGrass® for several of its common and recreation areas for all of these reasons, officials said. They felt that the synthetic grass option was simply more practical, particularly in the dry desert climate and topography that was very unfriendly to natural grass.
The Arizona State University Children’s Campus Center, in Tempe, had NewGrass® installed for similar reasons: the safety and health of the children they care for every day.
NewGrass® is also the waterless grass of choice of many designers and installers of backyard play areas. Key reasons are that it is lead-safe, provides safety under play sets, and is superior to traditional natural products – include grass, sand and wood chips – as as a ground cover under playground equipment.