Friday August 19, 2022

Let the children grow up

By Our Correspondent
July 03, 2022

Rawalpindi: An outdoor playground is an area designed for children to play freely. A modern outdoor playground is a combination of different pieces of equipment such as slides, climbers, walking bridges, and overhead hangings.

Many Rawalpindi dwellers complain that the fast diminishing open spaces and playgrounds from the cityscape are hampering the physical and psychological growth of city children.

“Playing is very important in children’s growth. In the modern world, children spend their free time playing video games, using computers, and watching television. Moreover, they love to take junk foods, sugary drinks, and high cholesterol foods. The sedentary activities with lack of exercise are threatening their health,” says Dr. Batool, a psychologist.

“There is only a small corridor in my house where I can play with my little bicycle and a few toys. Besides this television is the other entertainment I have,” says 13-years-old Rizwan Haider who lives in Shah Khalid Colony.

“The lack of physical movement causes serious mental hindrance to children. It not only handicaps them mentally but a mental imbalance becomes a probability,” fears Dr. Farah Zaidi, hailing from a mental health institution. “Children of the city are compelled to entertain themselves indoors, which is making them psychologically isolated and leaving a long-term negative effect on their personality, adds Dr. Farah Zaidi.

“There is very limited access for children to play in the playgrounds as organizations, one after another, arrange fairs there. Marriage parties are seen occupying the place. This is happening without break,” says Rifat Hassan, a resident of Gowalmandi.

“The city fathers are not serious about freeing playgrounds as they earn a huge amount in revenues by permitting commercial use of the grounds and open spaces,” adds Rifat. “The concerned departments must save the remaining playgrounds in the city for the sake of healthy psychological and physical growth of the children. Around two-thirds of the city’s population is children. However, the city has only a few playgrounds and lesser parks but even those are not suitable for children. The officials must not allow holding fairs on all city playgrounds,” says Hamayat Ali.

“Environmentalists have repeatedly protested to end the culture of holding fairs on all playgrounds and also to free them from the illegal occupiers. None can use playgrounds for commercial purposes without permission,” says Khurram Hussain, an engineer who lives in Satellite Town. “So why they are they allowing the commercial occupiers to deprive what rightfully belongs to children?” he asks. Quite often the concerned department officials evict the illegal occupiers but local councillors including political activists create hurdles as they continue to protect the occupiers,” says Atif Ali, a senior official.

Sources within the civic bodies, however, say that there is a plan to hand over all parks and playgrounds to the private sector, which just might solve the problem.