Parks & Recreation features Playworld Systems and Empower

Power to the Kids

By Danielle Taylor

Parks & Recreation

 

The 40 energy-generating playground installations Empower Playgrounds has completed have provided opportunities for hundreds of Ghanaian schoolchildren to provide light for their evening studies.

The 40 energy-generating playground installations Empower Playgrounds has completed have provided opportunities for hundreds of Ghanaian schoolchildren to provide light for their evening studies.

 

On many playgrounds, the energy produced by children spinning the merry-go-rounds or powering the teeter-totters just translates into friction that wears down the equipment over time. But some innovative companies are developing ways to capture this kinetic energy and put it toward useful purposes for the surrounding community. The engineers who pioneered this technology hope it spreads so playgrounds can be legitimate sources of power in more communities around the globe.

Since 2008, a Utah-based nonprofit called Empower Playgrounds Inc. (EPI) has established 40 electricity-generating merry-go-rounds throughout the West African country of Ghana, with 10 more planned for 2013. In the off-grid Ghanaian communities where EPI has built playgrounds, most children have to work after school on family farms or complete other chores until after dark each day when they can no longer see well enough to complete their schoolwork. EPI playgrounds, produced in partnership with Playworld Systems, are built primarily to supply renewable battery-stored power to lanterns, which the children can bring home at night to help them further their education. A love of play along with a strong will to learn keeps the lights burning night after night. In addition, each installation, which costs about $10,000, comes with a science kit that helps teach the students about the physics involved, providing multiple lessons from a system they can experience for themselves.

 

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