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Kids lose out as traders take over playgrounds

Update: July, 05/2012 - 10:26


Volunteers play with kids in the Children's Palace in Ha Noi. Many children in the city are losing space to play in safety as traders encroach on their playgrounds. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Tran
HA NOI — Many children in Ha Noi are losing their recreation venues as traders encroach on their playgrounds.

As a result, many are forced to play on the sidewalks or become absorbed in on-line games.

Vu Minh Dat, a seven-year-old boy in Ha Noi's Quan Tho Street, said he usually played football with other children on the sidewalk of the street.

"There's a small yard in front of my apartment building, but adult stallholders won't allow us to play there. They're afraid we'll ruin their food stands," Dat said.

Nguyen Thu Thuy, Dat's mother, said football was the only game he played since the summer holidays began in May.

"He's no longer excited about going to Thu Le Zoo or Bach Thao Botanical Garden," Thuy said. "They used to be his favourite places every weekend, but he's bored with the old games and the old animals."

Dat is one of the many children who have no playing grounds. Figures from the Committee of Population, Families and Children show that about 644,000 children living in Ha Noi have to share 2,190 entertainment places.

Only 40 per cent of the sites are equipped with entertainment games, but most are run down or have broken equipment.

In Nguyen Cong Tru, Trung Tu and Kim Lien apartment buildings, playgrounds have been taken over by food vendors and parking operators.

The same situation occurs in Nghia Tan, Ngoc Khanh, Thanh Cong and Giang Vo apartment complexes.

Pham Gia Luong, head of the Ha Noi Construction Planning Institute's Urban Architecture Unit, said the design of all apartment complexes included playgrounds for children, but this function was often switched after a time.

For example, a large area of playground in Nam Trung Yen Urban Area has been used to park vehicles. The owner of the area claims that parking is much more important than playgrounds.

Giang Tuan Khanh, deputy director of the Ha Noi Youth Investment and Service, said most playgrounds in the city were not used effectively, adding that Ha Noi Children's Palace was the only place that offered useful outdoor activities.

But the Palace is always overcrowded and all classes are full. Entrance tickets for entertainment places with good facilities, such as West Lake Water Park and Bao Son Paradise Park, cost between VND100,000-145,000(US$5-7.30), making them unaffordable for many families.

Deputy Director of the Child Care and Protection Department Nguyen Trong An said lack of places to play could negatively affect children. Many were forced to play in unsafe places. Some spent much time on the internet and became addicted to pornographic websites or violent games.

On average, about 20 children die from accidents every day in Viet Nam. Drowning accounts for 50 per cent.

To improve the situation, a national programme for child protection wants 45 per cent of communes and wards and 40 per cent of districts to provide entertainment areas and cultural houses by 2020. Currently, about 38 per cent of the communes have standard playgrounds.

An said Ha Noi should create more playgrounds with creative and educational games. He said central Da Nang City allowed private enterprises to build playgrounds along the Han River for children to play sport. — VNS

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