Lack of shade on Wellington playgrounds putting children at risk

  • 10/01/2018
Lack of shade on Wellington playgrounds putting children at risk
Photo credit: iStock

Wellingtonian children are at a high risk of sunburn, a new study has found, with a lack of shade sails in the capital city's playgrounds to blame.

The University of Otago, Wellington study looked at 50 playgrounds in the city between January and February last year and found that 95 percent of play equipment had no shade.

Furthermore, 65 percent of seats and tables had no shade cover. The average shade cover is a quarter of that found in Australian playgrounds.

Leader researcher Ryan Gage says the study reflects the urgent need for parents to ensure their kids slip, slop, slap and wrap this summer.

"Our study shows that many children in playgrounds are in full exposure to the sun. This puts them at risk of sunburn and skin cancer," Mr Gage said.

The findings are particularly alarming when you consider New Zealanders are at the highest risk of melanoma skin cancer in the world.

Nearly 70,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with, and 500 New Zealanders die of, skin cancer every year.

"Approximately 90 percent of skin cancers are linked with excessive sun exposure.

"Providing effective shade in summer recreation spaces may help to reduce children's risk of skin cancer," Mr Gage said.

The study recommends that Wellington playgrounds create more shade by planting trees with heavy foliage and building structures with large, protective roofing.