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Hawthorne Park

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by Rebecca Lawrence (subscribe)
Rebecca also writes for Bulimba Business . Find her on facebook Bulimba Business
Published September 9th 2011
Who would have thought a children's playground could be so contentious? Hawthorne Park is causing quite a stir in sleepy, old Hawthorne with mothers up in arms over the new slide that the council recently installed in the otherwise highly welcomed refurbishment of this popular park. Originally the park had only a couple of swings and some bark chips going for it but the all new, singing and dancing, play area has the latest play equipment dividing mothers and driving them to write "Please explain" letters to their local councillor, Shayne Sutton.

What's all the fuss about? A new type of slide which has no sides to it. I will admit that when I first saw it myself I was vaguely horrified as it does not make a good first impression. It always looks to me as if it is sticking its tongue out and after all the commotion, it quite probably is. It is quite steep and offers no safety rails to contain kids as they plummet down its curved surface. It is pictured here being road tested by my four year old.

Councillor Sutton has responded to recent letters by advising that it complies with all recent safety legislation but that it is designed for 5 to 12 year olds. As the evidence before you suggests, this is going to be rather hard to police. The council is also going to put a sign on the fence explaining how the slide should be used which should also alleviate some concerns. It turns out that in fact it isn't a slide at all; it's a 'slalom-glider'. The child is supposed to straddle the slide with legs dangling over the edges to balance themselves – who knew? I've seen plenty of variety in modes of descent but that.

Despite my initial concerns, I have grown comfortable with the big red tongue. It offers the children a challenge which is rare in these days of cotton wool parenting. Unless we present children with some calculated risks to take, how will they grow to be creative or adventurous? I'll be watching with interest once the instructions are put up to see how many children mindlessly follow the diagrams or whether they continue to slither down on tummies, some feet first or headfirst, or just whatever way feels like the most fun!

Marks out of ten
Play items: 9.5
Safety: 9.5 Fence is a great attribute
Sun safety: 9.5
Water bubbler: 6 Set on grass with inevitable swamp underfoot
Toilets: 2 Too far for a toddler in need
Coffee access 8 Several good cafes in walking distance
Parking: 10 Street and car park available
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Why? Kids love a challenge
When: Anytime
Where: Hawthorne Park, Riding Road
Cost: Free
Comments
Bec, I admit my first impression of this slide was skeptical ... I had not been confronted with such a "challenge" before either...BUT from a injury prevention perspective I think they have put in a mighty fine spongy surface an I think anyone with common sense would soon recognize that anyone under 5 would need some supervision on this little number.. I pleased to hear they are attaching some warning and description of proper usage.... Professionally and personally I am in full belief that our littlies are much better off to explore themselves physically (in safety) and I think the council will (eventually once the signs are up) be providing a great resource aiding cognitive and physical development of our kids ! P.s sending this from my phone on a train in Tuscany .....excuse the errors!!!!
By Anonymous
Saturday, 10th of September @ 07:45 pm
Thanks for taking the time to comment - especially when you are so far away with so many better things to do! I hope the majority agree and common sense does ensure our kids play safely whilst enjoying an opportunity to develop confidently in so many ways.
By Rebecca Lawrence - senior reviewer
Sunday, 11th of September @ 03:03 am
I took my kids 8 & 3 the other day. My son, the oldest loved it and worked it out pretty quick, my daughter wasn't interested at all as it "looks scary". We were there for a while and I was setting right next to the slide and could hear everyone's comments as they approached the slide. I noted that the younger kids were interested in it until they got to the top and they were too scared to go down. The older kids loved it. I did see the sign on the fence on how it was to be used but to be honest it doesn't really stand out and there were a lot of mums saying how ridiculous it was...until I pointed out how it was supposed to be used.
I think the age it is designed for is perfect, but unfortunately, because it's in with all the other play equipment you are going to get the little ones wanting to give it a go. If they don't like it, they won't use it...simple as that. Nice little playground and my kids loved it!
By danie - reader
Wednesday, 21st of September @ 07:33 am
Thanks for your feedback, Danie. I agree, the other play equipment does suit a younger age group but most families are like yours having to cater to different age groups and it's important that school aged children have activities to suit their needs too.
By Rebecca Lawrence - senior reviewer
Wednesday, 21st of September @ 09:11 am
I agree, the slide is fantastic for older children and it's great to actually have something for them. The only problem is that small children take forever on it which means a large queue forms.
It might be an idea if they could also put in a smaller, conventional slide for the younger children.
Otherwise I think parents need to accept that this slide is for the older kids only. There are lots of things in the park for the toddlers, so this is one part that is just for the over 5s.
By Anonymous
Monday, 26th of September @ 09:06 am
Great idea - although, I don't like our chances of getting another slide given how much money they have just spent on the park overall. You're right about the queue too. I wonder if this will improve as the slide becomes more familiar and less novel?
By Rebecca Lawrence - senior reviewer
Monday, 26th of September @ 08:47 pm
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