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One of the UK’s leading experts in child health and development has warned parents that soft play centres are ‘slowly killing children’ due to the environment that they create – his latest report suggests that youngsters’ bodies are getting so used to soft landing mats and inflatable castles that their bones are becoming too weak to withstand the smallest of impacts in the real world.
Dr Julian Stuffage is a regular speaker on the subject at the University of East Essex, and he has admitted that he is ‘incredibly worried for the future of children in the UK. He said: ’40 years ago, children could only really play on concrete surfaces and hard floors, and so their bodies grew up to be ready for anything. In 2016, soft play centres have never been more popular, but the problem is that some kids are visiting them three or four times a week, and effectively their bones are turning into sponge. I have personally spoken to one mother who takes her 3-year-old son to one on a regular basis, and a few weeks ago he fell on his bottom at home and snapped his leg in five places.’
He continued: ‘It’s simple biology really. When a child is exposed to a wide variety of germs and bacteria, they quickly build up an immunity to a whole spectrum of nasty diseases. If children are allowed to play in an area with hard floors and dangerous objects, their bodies absorb the inevitable blows and become stronger in the process. The situation in this country is reaching crisis point, and I am even hearing about children developing gluten intolerances and diabetes from their exposure to ball pools and slides. Some parents are even wrapping their kids up in cotton wool BEFORE taking them to these play facilities, and all they are doing is doubling the problem.’
Essex businessman Darren Laceratio identified this problem a few months ago, and he now runs the incredibly successful Concrete ‘n’ Glass Funky Funhouse in Hockley – a kids fun and adventure centre that exposes young children to some of the more dangerous elements of modern life that they could encounter in the real world. We asked Mr Laceratio for his response to this report, and he said: ‘I applaud the groundbreaking work that Dr Stuffage has carried out, and he is 100% correct. Our ‘hard play’ centre has gone from strength to strength since it opened last year, and families are coming from all over the UK to let their kids try out our Peppa Pig Bandsaw Fun Zone. When the little’uns grow up, their bodies will be able to cope with whatever life can throw at them.’
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