The View From Here – Edmonton Public Schools take the bounce out of children’s fun

Tom Henihan

Any over-reaching, absurd initiative can be justified by citing a worst case scenario.

Edmonton Public Schools have, in their concern for children’s safety, banned inflatable amusements in all school facilities, including the use of such items by groups who rent school space for birthdays and other events.

Carrie Rosa, a spokes person for the Edmonton Public Schools outlined the Public Schools rational for the ban in the Edmonton Journal.

“There have been instances where students have been injured on inflatables, and we take the safety of our students very seriously and we want to keep kids safe at all times..”

There are many instances of students sustaining injuries while playing sports but ban sports would obviously be untenable.

I cannot see Edmonton Public Schools having the temerity to ban hockey, Canada’s secular religion, even if they take the safety of their students seriously at all times.

The safety of children is always an issue, but in this instance I suspect the school board’s concern is drastically inflated and it is they who want to play it safe and avoid liability.

If so, they should be more forthcoming, be honest about their real concern and lead by example.

Every parent worries about their child’s safety and wellbeing but most know how to be vigilant without being oppressive.

Most parents also know that children have to take minimal risks in order to develop dexterity, good coordination and most importantly to have a little fun.

This ban goes to the heart of the matter, as the things kids enjoy the most when playing are momentum and buoyancy whether it is playing on a bouncy castle or jumping on their bed at home.

Although the Edmonton Public School board obviously sees fun as dangerous, their list of prohibited items and demands is itself comical.

The board’s definition of the treacherous items is listed on its website :

“Inflatable amusement attractions are any structures inflated and supported by a blower.

Inflatable structures are generally classified into five broad categories; bounce house/castles, slides, interactive attractions (wrestling, boxing, and bungee), obstacle courses, and climbing components.”

Really, what is a child to do if they can’t bounce, slide, interact, wrestle, negotiate obstacles and climb?

The edict goes on to say, that staff and students “are prohibited from having physical contact with inflatable amusement attractions and trampolines during any school-related activities. This applies to school-related activities that are both inside and outside of a school facility.”

Some of those dictates have the austerity of a restraining order such as “staff and students are prohibited from having physical contact with inflatable amusement attractions.”

It is surprising that they stopped there and didn’t prohibit students and staff from coming within 6 feet of anything inflatable.

To the credit of the students parents, many have objected to this ban seeing it as overzealous and unwarranted and because they were not consulted prior to this ban being imposed.

One has to wonder why, when school administrators take initiatives they always impose restrictions.

A child’s world always seems to grow smaller and their list of options diminish under the guiding hands of self-interested bureaucrats who are supposed to prepare the child for life and broaden his or her horizons.


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