Prof. Dr. Peter Hirtz, Emeritus professor for movement and training science at the Ernst Moritz-Arndt-University of Greifswald Greifswald, 2nd March 2008

Report about the "Kids Gym Apparat Greifswald"

The area of the child-caring is going, as the corresponding research association (ccp. German youth centre and University of Dortmund 2008) states in its statistics, through some fundamental changes at the moment. According to this today - in opposition to the previous years and decades - great expectations are directed to the public education- and care offers. These are supposed to be the centre of a network of support and services build around the family. The compatibility of occupation and having a family even under the conditions of modern employment needs to be made easier for the parents. At the same time the children are to be granted on early support that lays the basis for the further progress of the education. So it is no surprise that early education for children, child-caring and raising were put with all vehemence on the political agenda. It has to be seen as a positive development, that these basics were (re-)discovered by the education policy.

Of all German children, who didn’t go to school yet, a total of 2,6 millions went to a day care facility at the cut-off date of the above mentioned study. 92 - 93 % of the children at the age of four to five years visit a public day care facility.

The mentioned fundamental changing process was necessary for dealing with the declining tendencies in the kinetic abilities of preschool children seriously. In 2002 my department worked on a comparative study for the kinetic abilities of 5 to 6 year old children who attend kindergarten, this study brought the scientific proof that compared to the results of a similar study in 1987 one can clearly see and statistically verify recessions in different kinetic abilities (e.g. in the orientation, slowed reactions and kinaesthetic differentiation ability, but also in speed-strength, strength-endurance and endurance performance between 10 and 20 %) (Hirtz 2007, “Phänomene der motorischen Entwicklung des Menschen” Schorndorf, Hofmann). This shows the necessity of more effort to be put into an improved basic training of preschool children.

The kids gym apparatus, that was designed and developed by Mrs. Dr. Eleonore Salomon at the institute for sports science at the University of Greifswald in 1962, has proved itself (over many decades) in kindergartens all over the German Democratic Republic (here it was part of the basic equipment) and also in relevant facilities in other countries, e.g. Hungary, Cuba, because it creates valuable impulses for varied, intensive, joyful exercises that are suitable for children. This was confirmed by the agreement and the partly euphoric statements of the kindergarten caring staff. The big advantage of the apparatus is the multifarious possibilities for its use as a jungle gym, wall bars, exercising benches, horizontal bars, parallel bars, boxes etc., which offer plenty attractions for movements and allow varied and joyful exercises. It offers fun and exercise for several children at the same time, in addition to that it can be built up or be put away very quickly, it can be transported by the staff together with the children, once constructed it is stable and room efficient, while it can be stored space efficient and compact. Furthermore it is adapted to the body height and the weight of three to six year olds. The children are thrilled, when they are allowed to practise on the apparatus. The large number of statements concerning the apparatus confirms just that.

An “updated” replica and an area-wide adoption of the kids gym apparat “Greifswald” are strongly recommended. This would ensure that the stage of early childhood in which the coordinative-kinetic preconditioning takes place would be used intensively. Scientifically developed apparatus like this one are rare, so exporting it seems quite likely.

Greifswald, 2nd March 2008
Prof. em. Dr. Peter Hirtz