Safety or Challenge?

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With all the arguing going on this past week from congress to our social media accounts about how best to deal with a society saturated with AR-15 assault rifles, I found it more than a bit ironic to find something removed for “safety” from a local park. We are now entering decades of mass shootings with zero movement to regulate, but sue crazy lawyers have turned playgrounds into a few tires and a swing.

When I was five or six years old, it was a treat to go to Wortman Park at the east edge of town and play hide and seek before catching garter snakes along the banks of the creek bed. There was also an unfathomable challenge for a small child in the form of a twenty foot tall platform-tower with a square hole cut in one side to access the most bad ass metal slide you can ever imagine. I was terrified of the thing from the time I first saw it, but when other kids slightly older than me were laughing and enjoying the maximum slide velocity I just had to investigate. I wasn’t a fan of heights,  so I climbed each rung very carefully and deliberately until I found myself at the top. It took real guts, but I finally inched my way into launching position and shot down that slide at what appeared to be rocket speed to my brain. I barely managed to land on my feet, but I did it. Some kids did fall, and some got a few scrapes, but it had been an important right of passage for all of us at the time. Hence my disappointment to find the slide removed and replaced with a tepid set of low velocity swings on the very (pictured) spot. I understand we must protect our kids, but where exactly is the line between safety and challenge? Guns aside, shouldn’t risk in the daily lives of our kids go beyond just facing a low SAT score? When does protection become too much coddling? I wonder.

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