A Toronto elementary school has banned most balls from its playground, citing the need to protect staff and students after a parent got hit in the head with a soccer ball. The new policy has infuriated parents and students, and exposes what child-health researchers say is a growing focus on child safety that is keeping kids from being physically active.
On Monday, Earl Beatty Junior and Senior Public School principal Alicia Fernandez sent home a note warning parents their students are no longer allowed to bring soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs, footballs and volleyballs to school. All balls that weren’t made of sponge, or nerf, material would be confiscated.The school, which has about 350 students in Kindergarten to Grade 8, along with a daycare, has a small, walled playground that gets crowded during recess and flying balls had become a constant problem, said ward trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher. Two weeks ago a mother picking up her child at the daycare went to hospital with a concussion after getting struck in the back of the head with a soccer ball.
“They have been trying very hard for a long time to get kids to stop throwing balls so hard and it wasn’t working, so (the principal) just had to ramp up the policy,” Cary-Meagher said. Anna Caputo, a spokeswoman for the school board, said the ban was actually a long-standing policy at the school that had stopped being enforced until someone got hurt. “Some parents will say it’s extreme and some may agree (the principal) had to quickly implement something that will address the situation at the school to avoid the further risk of injury to the students,” she said.
The Toronto school isn’t the only one to ban balls over concern for student safety. Last year, an Ottawa public school banned balls on the playground during winter. In June, a public school St. Catharines, Ont., banned balls after a girl got hit in the head while watching a schoolyard soccer game. Both bans were overturned after students at the schools started a petition.
“When it comes down to it, the kids are not allowed to do anything, so there’s 325 kids who are all just standing around for 15 minutes,” said Scott Taylor, whose 10-year-old son, Matthew, started the petition at the St. Catharines school. “Kids need to play; they need to have things to do.”
Click here to read the entire Vancouver Sun article, written by Tamsin McMahon.