The playgrounds in Tirol, Austria, speak volumes about lifelong learning. Hint, they aren’t just for kids.
The playgrounds are nothing like the low-risk, cushioned, gently-sloped, plastic, shredded rubber turf play structures that dot the city parks and schools in the US. Many Tirolean play structures are two to three stories tall, made of solid wood, and have pulleys, rope bridges, ramps, water flumes, sand pits, lengthy slides, zip-cords, and get this… teeter-totters! I cannot remember the last time I saw a teeter-totter in an American playground. One play area even had a small rock climbing wall.
Most curious, when playing on private land, a parent does not need to sign multiple liability waivers, the kids can just play.
I have seen a variety of playgrounds in Tirol, and all have safety elements designed into the structures, but they are also architected in such a way as to foster independence, spark creativity, and provide a setting for kids to make decisions – and some decisions on these play structures have an element of risk.
Below are some photos of what lifelong learners can expect when playing in Tirol.