As parents, our job is to protect our children and support their development; so one day they can stand on their own two feet, and support themselves. Part of this enormous job is screening what’s ‘harmful, and what’s beneficial for our munchkins.
Over the past few years backyard trampolines have received a fair amount of scrutiny. A trampoline can be seen as a benefit; it’s great for developing coordination, balance, sensory awareness and provides an outlet for kids’ energy. But take another look at your average traditional backyard trampoline (often bought at around $200 – $400 dollars), and you’ll see: a jumping mat which is surrounded with rows of metal springs with gaps between them, and a hard metal frame around the edge. Some will have an enclosure, but it will be supported by hard metal poles, and often lack UV stabilisation in the net.
Most of us (and rightly) don’t think kids should be wrapped in cotton wool; there are unavoidable risks in life which kids to have to learn to navigate. But traditional trampoline design hasn’t changed since the 1930’s. And let’s be realistic, technology in almost every other area has advanced a lot since then. We don’t fly in aeroplanes or drive in cars from the 1930s or use pretty much anything that was designed that long ago, because we’ve improved on them and made them better.
The traditional trampoline is one of the only products whose design hasn’t evolved, until recently.
When Springfree Trampoline Inventor, Dr Keith Alexander, wanted to buy a trampoline for his girls, he started researching trampoline injuries and realised they were far too dangerous. In fact, his wife told him she would never allow a trampoline in their backyard because they’re too dangerous. So, Dr Alexander looked further into trampoline injury statistics (he’s an academic, after all!) and decided that with his mechanical engineering background, he would try to design a trampoline with all the benefits of jumping, but without the safety risks. To give some insight, the US Paediatrics Association has called for home trampolines to be banned because they put over 100,000 kids in hospitals every year.
But us kiwis don’t want something so over the top as a blanket ban on trampolines; getting kids outside and encouraging them do physical activities is part of a healthy lifestyle. Trampoline exercise is so beneficial NASA has reported that jumping for 10 minutes is the equivalent of a 30 minute run!
Being an associate professor of the mechanical engineering department at the University of Canterbury, Keith saw a challenge to be solved – he set about designing a safer trampoline. To cut a long story short – he did. It took 10 years of research and development, but finally he created the Springfree Trampoline – proven to be the world’s safest trampoline.
And it’s not just the engineering community that’s excited about Springfree Trampoline Dr. Vicki Vertongen, an Emergency Department specialist says “I see far too many children with injuries caused by trampolines, which is why I have a Springfree for my children – it is SIGNIFICANTLY safer and the only trampoline I recommend”.
And it all happened here in our own backyard. Kiwi innovation yet again creates an elegant ‘best in the world’ solution. By removing the hard frame from the mat surface, introducing a soft-edge rod system instead of springs, and implementing a flexible enclosure that catches jumpers up to 100kg at a speed of 125km/ hour, Springfree Trampoline has been proven to eliminate 90% of equipment based trampoline injuries.
Steve Hansen, the current All Black coach, loves the freedom his kids have while jumping on their Kiwi designed and created trampoline, and peace of mind it gives him as a father. Steve says “I wouldn’t put my children on any [other] trampoline.”
So let’s embrace the bounce – but consider do you want to allow avoidable risk into your backyard? Or, agree there’s enough risk in life for your kids without putting a dangerous piece of equipment in your back yard.