May 17, 2011
Needed: Recreational facilities for our children


As activities to mark Child Month continue, it is perhaps appropriate that we focus on a much-neglected aspect of the development of our children. This concerns the provision of basic recreational facilities for them. It is an area taken for granted, maybe because for many of us, it is not seen as essential to the growth and development of our young ones.{{more}}

We have successfully been able to pay the requisite attention to education, and the provision of adequate facilities has been part of this. It has not been easy to get this emphasis going, given our limited resources, but we have fought very hard to build and equip schools and other educational institutions. Unfortunately, in earlier years, whether due to the paucity of funds or a lack of broader vision, we made the grave mistake of building schools without the necessary recreational facilities. Today, we are burdened with that legacy – of having schools without adequate recreational facilities. The problem is compounded by many communities not even having such facilities to serve the wider community.

In recent years, efforts have been made to partially address this problem. But it still remains a pressing one where young children are concerned. They need particular facilities, which are designed for their comfort, enjoyment and development. In fact we can say that, comparatively speaking, we have regressed in this regard. In colonial times for instance, there was at least one children’s playground in Kingstown, on the site occupied by the Customs Department and general Port area. Later the Jaycees organisation, then very much alive and functioning, used the profits from its popular Bingo operation to fund a children’s playground at Stoney Ground. In addition regular visits by Coney Island, the occasional circus and the like, at least provided some very junior entertainment. That is now history.

With our failure to take a focused approach to child recreation, the issue has been tackled on an ad hoc basis. It is the various pre-schools and nurseries, despite the grave limitation on resources, which have been valiantly struggling to address this need. In the absence of meeting this vital need, our children are forced to deal with video and television for recreation and entertainment, with limited social interaction which would be obtained had we provided children’s parks and playgrounds. The society pays the price for this later.

So, as we keep our children in mind this month, we urge all concerned, parents, government, social and community organisations alike, to pay some attention to this void in our midst. In particular, the private sector can play an important role in helping to fund the establishment of such facilities. The entire society stands to benefit by it. Adequate recreational facilities means happier, more rounded children, better able to interact with their peers and the wider society, more absorptive of information and having a sounder foundation, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to national development.