January 14, 2010

Playgrounds power villages in Ghana

Merry-Go-RoundFor people in the United States, play is vital to our children's health and well-being. But in remote villages of Ghana, it can also be the key to an entire village's health, education and prosperity.

Empower Playgrounds Inc. builds special merry-go-rounds that generate power for lights in villages where electricity is scarce or not found at all. The non-profit, which started three years ago, has built 10 merry-go-rounds and plans to build 25 more in 2010. Here are some more details:

[EPI founder Ben] Markham says he got the idea while serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He saw how dark it was in the concrete block schools and wondered how the children were expected to learn.

Markham, a retired engineer, worked with Brigham Young University students to develop a merry-go-round that could harness enough energy to power special lanterns. Students could use the lanterns to study at night, a huge development for villages located outside Ghana's spotty electrical grid.

EPI has also developed and installed an electricity-generating swing set, and a zip-line is in the works.

Read the full article: Man's LDS mission inspired bringing light to Ghana (Salt Lake Tribune).

The plan reminds me a lot of PlayPumps International, a non-profit uses similar technology to pump clean water in various parts of Africa.

There are some really neat photos of the electricity-generating merry-go-rounds on the Empower Playgrounds website. Go check them out!

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