High jinks as swings come back in play

This swing set at a Yishun Ring Road playground has nine swings linked together and placed at various heights, allowing children to explore it differently.
This swing set at a Yishun Ring Road playground has nine swings linked together and placed at various heights, allowing children to explore it differently.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

More HDB playgrounds setting up swings, some with a twist

Swings - the much-fought-over equipment at playgrounds of yesteryear - are making a slow but sure comeback to housing estates.

New swing sets have sprung up at playgrounds in several estates including Bedok, Bukit Batok, Sembawang and Yishun, much to the delight of young children.

A swing set at the Yishun Ring Road playground sports a modern twist on the classic play equipment. Set up last November at Block 330, it comprises nine swings linked together and placed at various heights, allowing children to explore it differently.

At other Housing Board estates, the offerings are more modest, such as the pair of swings at Blocks 701 and 705 in Bedok Reservoir Road. The swings are also lower, making them more suitable for children aged two to five.

Spotted at the playground when The Straits Times visited recently was five-year-old Julia Goh, who said: "This swing is more fun and also easy to ride on because my feet can touch the ground." Her brother, Kieran, nine, said he enjoyed the swings even if they might be "a bit too low" for him.

Increasingly, people are calling for old-school playgrounds to be retained, seeing them as part of Singapore's identity.

The swings were introduced last year, said Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, which manages the playground.

Swings, see-saws and merry-go- rounds in sandy pits used to be the staples at HDB playgrounds, until they gave way to imported proprietary equipment designed and certified for safety. The new-generation playgrounds are built on rubber mats meant to cushion falls better.

Increasingly, people are calling for old-school playgrounds to be retained, seeing them as part of Singapore's identity. Housewife Chong Foong Chiou, 33, who is one of them, said she still prefers swings made out of old tyres.

A 29-year-old civil servant, who wanted to be known only as Mr Farhan, said: "I used to play on swings a lot - the old kind."

Of the 16 town councils approached by The Straits Times, only four said they have swings at the playgrounds in their estates.

Mr Ian Tan, corporate communications manager of Chua Chu Kang Town Council, which installed a new swing set in Hong Kah North last year, said the decision was made after feedback from residents, an assessment of the proposals submitted, as well as consultation with the residents' committee.

The lack of space is one reason why some playgrounds have no swing sets, said town councils.

This is because the construction of swings requires more stringent criteria for safety. These include the height from the swing seat to the rubber flooring, and the distance between the front and rear of the swing set, according to Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council.

Mr Jason Sim, managing director of Playpoint, the consultancy firm that designed the Yishun Ring Road playground, said swings are not dangerous, but supervision is crucial to prevent accidents from occurring.

He said: "Children using the swings should ensure that no other child is standing behind them."

Mr Ameerali Abdeali, president of the National Safety Council of Singapore, stressed proper playground planning. "Safety must be incorporated at the design stage, and not be included as an afterthought when accidents happen," he said.

This includes anticipating possible dangers and mitigating them through good design.

While the Yishun Ring Road swings are elaborate, 11-year-old Chong Xi Ze prefers the simpler swing set located just a couple of blocks away from his home, saying: "I prefer the normal swings. I like the feeling of swinging up high."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'High jinks as swings come back in play'. Print Edition | Subscribe