Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 8 of Giving: Help build a playground for a school in Haiti

Our daughter, Giada, loves to swing. This summer we built her a swing behind the mission house where we lived. The children from the orphanage would come over every day and swing with Giada. That meant 20 kids (including our girls) sharing one swing. They would all stand in line and take turns pushing each other. Just watching this scene made us realize what a huge impact building a full playground at the school site would have on the hundreds of kids that attend the school next door. The squeals of laughter and delight we saw on the face of those kids this summer helped push us to research what it would take to build a playground for them.

Our dream is to one day build an obstacle course/playground area where the kids could play and have physical education during the school day. This is one (above) playground we saw at a resort in Haiti but there were very few playgrounds at any schools, especially the schools in the rural areas.

We would love to have swings, monkey bars, a tunnel perhaps pull-up bars for these kids to use. Their little bodies need to play. They need a place to refresh and have fun. Through some research back in the United States, we found this organization called  the Egoscue Foundation, which has a goal to eliminate childhood obesity by creating a fitness playground (called The Patch) at every elementary school across the nation.

The best way to describe the Patch is: "Close your eyes and while they are closed, transport yourself back to when you were five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten years old. You are playing on the Jungle Gym, monkey bars, a pile of rocks, mound of dirt, on a log or some old tire. Can you see it? You have no inhibitions, or restrictions, you duck, jump, crawl, climb, leap, and roll around on whatever it is, your creativity allows you to make up each move as a challenge presents itself. You don't know you are not supposed to be able to do these things, you just do them. I'll bet this has brought a smile to your face, hasn't it? That's Patch Fitness." To get a better idea, check out this video.

Our dream is to partner with them and build a Patch in Pignon, Haiti on our school site. We have already had many conversations with the Egoscue office in Orange County, California. We are brainstorming ways we could build a Patch together to benefit the kids in Haiti. They are excited about helping us fundraise as well as going down to build this playground/obstacle course. The price tag is $25,000. This is considerably cheaper than building other kinds of traditional playgrounds out of solid materials like metal.

We have already had a group of women in a Bible study in Fresno, California who decided to collect seed money for this project instead of giving gifts at their annual Christmas party. We are blessed by their gifts and passion for this playground.

*Would you be interested in joining Christian Friendship Ministries in helping to build a "Patch" for the kids in Pignon, Haiti? Inquiries and donations are accepted through our ministry web site.

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