Recycling program helps kids around the world play
SouthtownStar editorial August 21, 2012 8:00PM
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:24AM
Toys turn old, just like people.
Toys get thrown away because they are no longer useful, just as do some people.
Wasted toys are symbolically heartbreaking. Thwarted lives are tangibly tragic because they reflect a grotesque waste.
Kids Around the World, a faith-based charity in Rockford, tries to save damaged lives with rescued playground equipment on its way to the trash.
The children of Oak Lawn might not know it at this moment, but their playground that has long graced the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge is being taken away to be replaced by modern, forest-inspired equipment. Progress marches on.
But instead of the old equipment being dispatched to the trash heap, Kids Around the World volunteers are packing it up and sending it to anywhere of dozens of places in the world where families and children have been staggered by privation, war and tragedy. Some are neighborhoods closer to home that simply needed the help.
The question Kids Around the World organizers often answer, why playgrounds? Because war and privation steal playfulness from children. There are too many places in the world where staying alive takes most of a family’s energy. And while aid workers can bring food and medicine, they need to bring smiles and joy, too.
That’s what resurrected playgrounds do.
When national tragedy strikes any place — from the Katrina-ravaged neighborhoods of New Orleans to the gouged plains of Ghana and Zambia — this organization has managed the finances, logistical details and landed with the ready-to-be-installed refurbished playgrounds, like Marines hitting the beach. They’ve been to Cuba, to Venezuela, to Estonia, to Vietnam. They don’t care what flaws the governments might have. They come for the kids; not politics.
A hundred places, hundreds of playgrounds. They are old, thrown-away playgrounds but with a thousand giggles and yelps of joy still left in their metal slides and swings.
They tried it out 25 times in Rockford and decided it would work almost anywhere. Giving the gift of play comes wrapped in automatic smiles.