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Safeguarding The Playground

We childproof our homes and we use safety seats in our cars. But at the playground, an area made specifically for children, we have been missing the boat too often. Saturday Early Show Co-Anchor Gretchen Carlson reports.

While it is true that most playground injuries are minor, it is also true that each year, more than 200,000 children across the U.S. are badly hurt -- badly enough to wind up in the emergency room. More than dozen of these accidents are fatal.

Donna Thompson, president of the National Program for Playground Safety, will show how to check a playground for safety, including the equipment and the ground it is on. ("Padded" ground is made from recycled tires, which are collected by Rubberecycle.)

The most important message: Anybody -- a parent, a kid, a concerned citizen -- can learn how to make sure their playgrounds are as safe as they can be.

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Says Thompson, "I'll have to admit that I don't think there is a time when children are not injured, but we are concerned that they not be injured badly."

Thompson has spent more than 30 years traveling across the United States, checking on the status of playgrounds.

Mostly, what she finds is not good. Rusted bolts, worn-off surfacing -- Thompson says our nation's playground are in dangerous shape, and not enough is being done to fix the problem.

Only six states have laws setting safety standards for playgrounds, but sometimes those rules aren't followed. So now there is a new movement involving the littlest of experts to insure safety from the ground up.

Andrew Kidd, 13, is a spokesperson on playground safety. He comes by the job honestly. When he was 5 years old, he fell on some monkey bats and tore his lip on a bolt. "And when I hit the ground," he recalls, "my chin, it split open, and it was bleeding real bad."

It took 97 stitches and 15 surgeries to heal Andrew, and now his ultimate goal is the "make all the playgrounds in America safe so kids don't get hurt."

That's a big job, demanding a lot of work. With the help of his family, Andrew has been traveling across his home state of Indiana, teaching other kids how to check and see if their playgrounds are safe.

He begins with a classroom lecture based on the work of the Program For Playground Safety. But the real lesson happens outside, as he shows the kids how to inspect their own playground.

And that brings Andrew a little bit closer to his ultimate goal.

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