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The Boston Globe

South

Abington

Couple want end to YMCA jumping pillow

The South Shore YMCA featured a video clip of a “jumping pillow” on its website, highlighting a new attraction at its Hanover summer camp for children.

But an Abington couple whose daughter fractured a bone in her lower leg and sprained her ankle on the large inflatable bump say it is dangerous and should be removed.

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Margaret Devlin, a nurse who serves on the Board of Health in Abington, said her then 11-year-old daughter was injured June 26, during the first week of Camp Gordon Clark at Emilson YMCA in Hanover. She said a camp staffer “double-bounced” her daughter — jumped forcefully on the pillow next to the girl in an effort to propel her up. But instead of going up, Devlin said, her daughter apparently rolled her ankle into the depression created by the staffer, spraining the ankle and breaking her fibula.

A spokesman for the YMCA says that the injury was unfortunate, but that the jumping pillow is safe and no more hazardous than any other activity offered at the Hanover facility.

Devlin said she and her husband went to local police to report the incident but were told it was not a criminal matter and they could pursue it civilly. They filed a complaint with the Department of Children and Families alleging the Y was neglectful in letting children play on the pillow, she said.

Cayenne Isaksen, the agency’s director of public affairs, said it investigated the complaint and the allegation of neglect was found to be unsupported. She said it is policy not to give details of investigations.

Devlin said she and her husband have hired a lawyer to settle insurance matters from her daughter’s injury and to try to have the jumping pillow removed to spare others injury. She said they were told by a Y employee that other children have suffered twisted or sprained ankles on the pillow.

“They failed our daughter,” she said of the YMCA. “We don’t want them to fail other kids.”

Ernest Corrigan, a spokesman for the South Shore YMCA, said there have been a “handful” of mostly minor injuries on the jumping pillow, but camp officials consider it safe.

In an interview, he said the South Shore YMCA takes safety seriously, and guidelines for the pillow were tightened after Devlin’s daughter’s injury. It was decided in a meeting held at the same time that Devlin’s daughter got hurt that staffers would no longer be allowed on the pillow with the campers.

Corrigan said another boy wore an air cast after spraining his ankle on the inflatable pillow in August, but said he was free of the cast and any restrictions by the following week.

The video clip of the jumping pillow remains on the camp’s website, //ssymca.org/millpond/camp-gordon-clark/.

“Although our insurance carrier assures us that we have one of the best safety records of any YMCA in the country, occasional injuries happen in our programs regardless of the level of precautions, training, and close supervision by our staff,” the Y said in a statement to the Globe. “To date, we’ve found the jumping pillow to be as safe as any other of our program venues including our playing fields, tennis courts, swimming pools, and gymnasium.”

Jean Lang can be reached at jeanmcmillanlang@gmail.com
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