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Playgrounds for senior citizens? Genius idea.

Senior citizens like to have fun, too.

Playgrounds for senior citizens? Genius idea.

Playgrounds can be a lot of fun.

Kids love them. Parents are into them because physical activity is good for kids. (And let's be honest: It's also because we know they'll sleep well later.)


Whoops.

But you know who else playgrounds are good for? Senior citizens!

Yep, that's right. Playground equipment isn't just for little ones.

Image by Public Radio International.

Seniors enjoy doing more than sitting idly, reading a book, and gazing at the young whippersnappers swinging, sliding, and generally having a good time. They like to play, too!

In Spain, where the population is aging, senior-citizen playgrounds have been popping up for a while.

Not only do they provide a place for folks to enjoy physical activity, they also offer an opportunity for socializing.

Public Radio International shared the video below about playgrounds for senior citizens.

"It is very social," says Paz Vidal, a physical therapist. "[We] want to break the myth of the old person coming to the park and just sitting while grandkids play. And then going home. Kids can also have fun here. The parks help create family cohesion. And it's intergenerational."

The playgrounds in Spain sure seem to be serving their purpose.

GIF by Public Radio International.

"I am not someone to stay home. I get out a lot," said Franchesca, an 84-year-old in Spain who, in addition to enjoying being active, hasn't lost her sense of humor. "Because if you stay home, you spend all your time criticizing your kids, eh?"

And it's not just happening in Spain. It's starting to catch on in the U.S., too!

Folks playing at a senior playground in London. More of these in the U.S., please! Photo by Oli Scarff/Staff/Getty Images.

The nonprofit KaBOOM!, which generally builds kids' playgrounds, partnered up with Humana to build intergenerational playgrounds around the United States. So far, they've built over 50. These playgrounds are created with people of all ages in mind.

"Play is a great connector for adults and seniors and the children in their lives. In addition to the cognitive and physical benefits of play, it can also reduce stress in adults and is proven to help combat toxic stress in kids," Sarah Pinsky, director of client services for KaBOOM!, told Huffington Post.

I mean, just watch these folks enjoying themselves. Who wouldn't want to have fun like that at any age?

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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