The Concept Works, a West Des Moines, Iowa, public and government relations firm, planned and directed the statewide announcement of a playground safety study on behalf of the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative on Friday, March 4.
The goal of the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative (ISSI) is to demonstrate that Iowa-based technology can economically convert waste tires into useful products and protect children from playground injuries.
The initiative was created on July 1, 2003. The General Assembly and Gov. Tom Vilsack have funded the project at $500,000 each year of the past two fiscal years. Eleven playgrounds were upgraded during the 2003-04 fiscal year and 16 playgrounds will be improved during the current fiscal year.
The Concept Works organized simultaneous events in Alden, Bedford, Little Rock and Waterloo in which legislators appeared at upgraded playgrounds in their districts to release initial results of a study conducted by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) at the University of Northern Iowa.
As those events were taking place, localized releases were distributed so that other legislators could announce the study’s results to their local media and constituents. The Concepts Works has represented the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative since its inception.
The NPPS study concluded that safer surfacing and safety training provided by the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative have resulted in a dramatic decrease in playground injuries and a significant savings in medical expenses. The study reviewed data from 11 playgrounds installed in late 2003 and early 2004. The NPPS gathered injury data for each playground in the project before and after the new surfacing was installed and additional safety measures were taken. Fifty-eight fewer injuries were reported.
Every injury, even a minor one, requires 30 minutes of attention at least $25 in staff time. Yet, the real benefits from the 55-percent reduction in more-serious injuries are far more substantial. Eleven children were injured seriously enough on these playgrounds in the year before the initiative that they needed hospital treatment. Only five such incidents happened after the safer surfacing was installed and training took place. Using the average of $6,000 per visit, medical expenses were reduced $36,000 in one year and a great deal of pain and grief was prevented for kids and parents.
The safer surface is made of patented rubber and polymer tiles developed and manufactured by Welch Products of Carlisle. See these links http://www.welchproducts.com/ and http://www.playgroundsupervision.org/pressroom/ for additional information.