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Playgrounds from West Michigan going to help kids overseas

Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 |
Playgrounds from West Michigan going to help kids overseas story image
PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Playgrounds that have given joy to kids in West Michigan are now going to help kids around the world.

Tuesday, volunteers from local churches took down two play structures in Portage.

Through a group called Kids Alive International, the old play equipment will have a new life in Central America.

Piece by piece, the playground at Bicentennial Park came apart, getting ready for its next big journey.

"This will go to a school with 180 kids in Zapote, Guatemala. It is way out in the middle of nowhere," said Rich Anderson, a local member of Kids Alive International. 

The playgrounds from Bicentennial Park and Oakland Drive Park will be fused together for the school.

Anderson was in Guatemala last week.

"I asked them if they knew a playground was coming. If they knew what that was and they said no. Because they've never seen a slide, they don't know what it is," Anderson said. 

Playgrounds like these have gone overseas for survivors of sexual assault being helped by Kids Alive.

Anderson said they’ve helped children as young as 5 years old who were forced into prostitution.

"We, through the playgrounds, can help give them back their childhoods a little bit. They can learn to play and have fun," Anderson said.
    
The city of Portage is working with the mission group.     

Although up to 20 years old, these play areas are still in good shape but can't be reused in the U.S.
    
"Most play apparatuses have a very long life to them. I can't think of a better purpose to place these playgrounds. It's much better than the scrap yards which is where they'd go otherwise," said Trisha Keala, Recreation Program Manager for the city of Portage.

The playgrounds will be installed in Guatemala in summer 2015.

Playgrounds taken from Portage parks last year will be brought to Kenya this summer.

"This is a really great gift that will last a long time," Anderson said.

Bicentennial and Oakland Drive Parks will get brand new equipment by the end of May.
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