’burg and Beyond

In Lewisburg and far afield, Bucknellians make a positive and palpable difference
Professor Eric Kennedy headshot
Photo: Emily Paine
" "
Professor Eric Kennedy, biomedical engineering, helps to mitigate playground injuries at schools across the country.
" "

Playgrounds Nationwide

Parents around the country can thank Professor Eric Kennedy, biomedical engineering, for helping to keep their kids safe. Kennedy is an injury-prevention specialist who conducts research on playground safety. He collaborates with organizations, including ASTM International, the National Recreation and Park Association, and the National Program for Playground Safety, to ensure play spaces across the country are designed and installed so kids can climb, swing and slide — and stay out of harm’s way.

What He’s Done

One of Kennedy’s students, Drew Filchner ’22, completed an honors thesis that reported playgrounds to be the leading location of school injuries, making up one-third of all elementary school injuries. They recently published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Pediatrics. “It’s not our intent to say that playgrounds are inherently dangerous — they are absolutely not. Most of the injuries are very minor,” Kennedy says. “But it does go to show that we might take these spaces for granted and often overlook risks. Design decisions, utilization practices and supervision all play a role in helping to mitigate injuries.”

What He’s Doing Next

The Lewisburg Area School District recently solicited Kennedy’s advice as it looked to update its Kelly Elementary School playground. “It cannot be overstated that the playground is first and foremost an engaging space for our children to be active, where they are stimulated through play and social development,” says Kennedy, a father of two. “Our approach should be focused on risk management, rather than elimination of risk — and done so in a way that unobtrusively makes these spaces inclusive and enjoyable for children.”

—Mike Ferlazzo