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No Playtime for Positano Kids

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Mid April in Positano. Warm, sunny weather and a steady stream of tourists in shorts and sandals. On the beach sunbathers lie in their costumes on towels and loungers, soaking up the rays. Spring is definately here and summer seems to be very close by.

So why are the children in the Kindergarten School still not allowed outside to play?The playground is a mess, covered in fallen leaves and a collapsed net, the toys underneath dirty and abandoned. The children are kept closed in a stuffy classroom for up to seven hours a day with no fresh air or exercise. Surely something must be done?

There is a belief amongst some Italians that cold fresh air will harm a child and for this reason the school playground is off limits to the under 6’s for most of the winter month. But this past winter has been particularly mild and sunny. Yet nothing has been done to clean up the playground and let the children out to play.

Yesterday when asked why the children couldn’t go out a teacher replied that they would definately go outside that afternoon. Later when asked if they had played outside the children claimed that the teacher had told them that there were rats in the playground, they couldn’t go outside because it was dangerous.

The next morning, yet again a teacher was asked to explain why the children could not play outside. The reply was that there was nobody available to clean the playground. One expat mother offered to clean the playground herself but her offer was forgotten as an Italian mother arrived asking worridly whether it was true that there were rats in the playground. It was understood that another teacher had invented the rat story as an excuse to tell the children why they couldn’t play outside.

Frankly, this is a farce that could only happen in Italy.Children need fresh air and exercise. They do not need to be wrapped up in mounds of sweaters, coats, hats and hoods. This is South Italy and the climate is mild. Have the locals ever considered how people in more northern climates cope? Children in England and Scotland are sent outside to play ever day, no matter how cold it is and they come inside glowing and happy. Children in Sweden and Norway celebrate and throw off their coats and hats when the temperature hits 10 degrees.

How has it come about that here in South Italy a mother can be scolded for not putting a woolly hat and coat on her child when in England the child would be in short sleeves? And how can it be considered acceptable to keep 60 small children closed up in 3 small classrooms for seven hours while outside the sun shines and the thermometer hits 20 degreesC?

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