Sunday, February 24, 2008

New York Children Are Taught to Play


NEW YORK. — There are places where children have to be taught how to play. You might think that the youngsters wouldn't need instruction of this kind. You would be mistaken. Here in New York men and women spend the better part of their lives teaching thousands of children how to play, not only with their muscles, but also with their minds, writes a correspondent. A great many thousand dollars are spent annually by the city just for that purpose, and experience has proved that the time and money are well spent.

The tall tenements of the East side, as full of people as a warren is of rabbits, swarm with eager children. Their fathers and mothers were immigrants. Most of them had no boyhood or girlhood, as most people think of it. They worked for a living before they came to this country; they were hard at work in shops or factories after they came here. They had no traditions of play to hand down to their children. To them play was a foolishness.

Their children, unable to breathe in the tenements, take to the streets, which are dirty or infested with persons and things that are not good for little people to see and hear. Children who have no play places but the streets are apt to absorb unhealthful ideas as well as microbes. Pickpockets and loafers are developed that way. Besides, there is little of play that children can do in the streets. That ogre in cap and blue coat, the policeman, is always snooping about.

These are studies that folks with big minds made for themselves in past years. Little by little they got the city government interested and persuaded a very practical minded school board that it was worth while to provide play places for the children who had none, so the board of education has now in this city 245 playgrounds for children, day and night playgrounds, where the little people are carefully instructed how to frolic.

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