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updated: 7/19/2013 5:29 AM

Wheaton playground equipment finds new life in Haiti

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  • This former Central Park playground set is the second Wheaton Park District has refurbished and reconstructed in Haiti since 2010.

    This former Central Park playground set is the second Wheaton Park District has refurbished and reconstructed in Haiti since 2010.
    Courtesy of Wheaton Park District


Wheaton's old Central Park slide and swings will live another day to thrill children and help them try to touch the sky.

But the playground equipment will be a world away in Haiti.

For the second time since 2010, Wheaton Park District has partnered with Kids Around the World to rebuild playgrounds in Haiti with its used equipment. In 2010, the district donated the former playground at Northside Park, which also was rebuilt for the benefit of hundreds of Haitian children.

Executive Director Mike Benard said regulations regarding the repurposing of playground equipment prohibit the district from reusing it locally. In total, he said, the district has donated four playgrounds around the world.

"We're proud to donate this playground equipment to the children of Haiti and of our partnership with Kids Around the World because otherwise, this equipment would be filling up landfills," Benard said Thursday. "If we can make the lives of these children, who have been so devastated by these earthquakes, a little brighter, then we have enriched the quality of life in a remote part of our world."

According to the organization's website, Kids Around the World was founded in 1994 to help provide safe play equipment for children in less-privileged countries. When a playground is donated, the group removes the equipment, refurbishes it and ships it overseas.

Benard said seeing kids' reaction to the equipment confirms the partnership's success.

"We see the pictures and sometimes talk to the folks on the ground when these things open up for the children," Benard said. "Creating play and recreation is what we do, so to see the children enjoy what we can no longer use is a great feeling."

The equipment was no longer useful to the park district once Central Park, at the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt Road, was involved in a land-swap deal with developers near the Mariano's development.

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