My friends and I spent most of our lunchtimes upside down, taking an occasional break to refuel (cheese sandwiches and Hula Hoops) and perhaps squeeze in a couple of cartwheels on the grass. Isn't it always fun to look at the world from a different angle?
I'm sure we had a few scrapes and falls during our gymnastic exertions but I don't remember any of them. I only remember how good it felt to have an hour of freedom from the classroom to run, jump and contort our bodies into whatever position we wished.
Fast forward more years than I'd care to count and things are a little different. Old Priory Junior Academy in Devon has banned pupils from carrying out all "gymnastic activities" like handstands and cartwheels. The primary school made the decision after children suffered "a number of minor injuries to wrists and to backs," reported the BBC.
Nobody wants kids to get hurt. But isn't it just as dangerous to wrap them up in cotton wool as to let them practise a few cartwheels during playtime? Some of the parents think so. Alison Russell, whose child goes to the school, called the ban "ridiculous" and "silly."
"It's health and safety gone mad," said another parent, Lewis Harvey. "Kids should be able to do what they want in the playground as long as they don't hurt anyone else."
Old Priory Junior Academy's interim head teacher Emma Hermon-Wright explained the reason for the decision: "Over a series of a few days we had quite a few [injuries] for the same reasons. The children said they had been doing cartwheels and handstands and had fallen and we thought it was causing us a problem at school. In PE lessons in primary schools they are carefully supported and carefully controlled to help learn skills of this nature and we have very good gymnastic capabilities in our school."
"[On break times] we've got a lot of children in one go and you can't be supporting every child for a backward roll, forward roll, cartwheel, handstand or whatever they're doing at play time," she added. "Ultimately, the safety and wellbeing is our responsibility and it is paramount to everything we do here."
Ms. Hermon-Wright also said that the ban was only a temporary measure until school staff figured out a way of allowing the pupils to take part in gymnastic activities under staff supervision.
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