June 29, By Christian Murray
A Long Island City mother started a petition earlier this week calling on the city to put up shade canopies in area playgrounds to protect children from skin cancer.
The petition, launched by Hunters Point resident Tali Vaknin, has the support of neighborhood parents and has already generated 300 signatures.
Vaknin, who is being helped by the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, aims to get 1,000 signatures and present it to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and the Parks Department.
“With limited shade, especially on the waterfront, children are often at risk for harmful sun exposure,” Vaknin said.
“Children can easily burn and the playground equipment is dangerously hot,” Vaknin said, adding that the main play areas should be covered.
Vaknin said that she was recently in Israel and noticed that the playgrounds include shade canopies—or tarps—to protect children from the sun. She also said that the slides were made of plastic as opposed to metal that heats up.
She took a photo of a playground in Israel and photos of playgrounds in Manhattan to show what needs to be done in Long Island City.
Rob Basch, president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said he is in agreement with Vaknin. He said that he has been pushing for a shade canopy at Hunters Point South Park for the past two years through the participatory budgeting process.
With participatory budgeting, residents in Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City get to vote on how $1 million of city funds should be spent on capital improvements in the 26th Council District (Van Bramer’s district).
In the past two years, the shade canopy was on the ballot but did not get enough votes.
Van Bramer said today that he plans to help local parents get shade canopies.
“I fully support the efforts of concerned parents in Long Island City who have petitioned for the installation of shade canopies over playgrounds. Protecting children, and everybody, from the sun’s harmful rays is vitally important for cancer prevention, and I will certainly look into ways we could make this project a reality.”