There’s a new swing in Tillsonburg playgrounds and it’s bringing generations closer together.
The multi-generation swing allows a parent, grandparent or older child to safely swing with a young child while facing each other.
“It’s face to face – it’s just such a simple, neat concept,” said Matt Johnson, Tillsonburg Parks and Cemeteries supervisor.
“I think we were in Maryland on a family trip, that’s where we first saw them. And I thought what a great thing. Then I saw Norfolk had a similar swing, not exactly the same as ours, in Turkey Point.”
Johnson said the idea is to get parents and grandparents incorporated in the play of their children at parks.
“There was a study done in the UK (The State of Play, Back to Basics)… that one in five parents have forgotten how to play with their children.
“The biggest thing is that ‘face to face.’ You get to see your child and experience it with them.”
In addition to traditional swings, a generation swing was installed at several municipal parks in July – the Optimist Park (near the tennis courts), the Trottier playground (Baldwin Street), and Coronation Park.
According to the town’s generation swing distributor, per ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards, all swing seats are tested with a 750-pound (340-kg) load. The generation seat passed all testing parameters.
“They have definitely been used,” said Johnson. “It’s nice to see when you put something like that in and then you see it getting used. That’s a big deal.”
In time, Johnson hopes the generation swings will be added to other parks across town.
“We hope to add some more in the future,” he nodded, noting the town has about 10 to 12 parks, including the upgraded park planned for the Glendale subdivision (Allen and Christie streets) this fall or next spring, which will have the multi-generation swing and be accessible.
While exploring playground options, Johnson found other multi-generation features.
“Some of them have a zip-line feature where you can kind of slide across. Some have platform swings, so you can sit and read a book, or however you want to use it.
“This is just a stepping stone to other add-ons that we can add to our parks. We’re really going to try to incorporate the multi-generational play and inclusive play.”
The Glendale playground will also include sound features, said Johnson.
“So you can play drums, xylophones and things like that. That’s a new thing, too. We’re going to look into that.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring, use of playground equipment was prohibited until restrictions were lifted by the town later in the summer. In that time, Johnson said local parks have been getting a lot of use.
“People are using our parks. It’s like… unbelievable. It’s just so nice to see and I hope it stays that way. I hope that everyone gets back into that old style of getting out of the house, going to the park with your kids or your friends.”