Empower playgrounds

Empower playgrounds

Empower Playgrounds, Incorporated is a U.S. Registered 501(c)(3) company that designs, builds, installs, and maintains playground systems designed to extract a fraction of the energy children exert while at play and store it in a battery. The energy is then transferred into portable LED lanterns that can be taken home by students in rural Ghana. The primary application of this patent pending technology is in rural third-world settings.

Current Projects

An electricity generating merry-go-round has been installed at Golden Sunbeam Montessori School in Ghana. EPI will install five more merry-go-rounds in 2008 near and around Accra, Ghana.

An electricity generating zip-line has been raised in Empower Playground's workshop in Ghana. Plans for installation are set for 2009.

An electricity generating swing-set is being designed at BYU-Idaho. A prototype will be built in the workshop in Ghana for 2009.


Empower Playgrounds, Inc. was founded in March 2007. The initial idea was devised by Ben Markham. a retired chemical engineer former vice-president of engineering for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, while serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Accra, Ghana.

FounderEPI founder and Chair of the Board, Ben Markham, lived in Ghana for eighteen months while working as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. While visiting rural schools, Markham observed poor conditions--namely poor lighting in classrooms, and no playground equipment for the students. An innovative and viable solution to the two needs was developed —build playground equipment that generates electricity from children at play. Markham registered the organization as an official 501(c)3 public charity and has dedicated countless time and resources to the project.

DirectorsSarah M. Hall (Executive Director) and Solomon Tenadu (Country Director, Ghana) registered the organization as an official nonprofit in Ghana, developed a business plan, worked with student interns in public administration and sociology, researched existing educational programs in Ghana, and developed a model for school selection during the summer of 2008.

Student InternsSeveral teams of Brigham Young University students assisted in developing the merry-go-round and zip-line as power sources. Five Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) students traveled to Ghana to build and install the first rural merry-go-round in the village of Essam. JJ Campbell, a physics intern, traveled to Ghana in the summer of 2008 to assist in modifying and building the first zip-line in Ghana. Two BYU sociology students are in the process of performing impact assessments of the playground equipment and lanterns in the rural villages. Students at BYU-Idaho are currently designing an electricity generating swing-set.

EngineersKweku Anno at K.A. Anno Engineering in Accra, Ghana, works to modify the US designs to fit the availability of materials readily available in Ghana. He manages the Empower Playgrounds shop and trains Ghanaian apprentices to construct the playground equipment. His shop, based out of Osu, is where the playground equipment is constructed and tested.

Science LabThe educational aspect of the equipment is EPI's current major focus. BYU professors Joan Dixon, Steve Shumway, and Val Hawks traveled to Ghana for a week during summer 2008, and are currently creating a science lab specific to the age and culture of Ghanaian children, in conjunction with technology teaching students at BYU.

Undergraduate students from the Mechanical Engineering Department of Brigham Young University developed the initial proof-of-concept prototype as a capstone project. [cite press release
title = BYU Capstone Engineering Students Harness Kids' Energy
publisher = BYU Mechanical Engineering
date = 2007-04-11
url = http://me.byu.edu/about/releases.php
accessdate = 2007-12-01


Numerous organizations are contributing to the development and implementation of this idea, including:

* The Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology and Masters in Public Administration Program at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah
* [http://www.byui.edu Brigham Young University - Idaho]
* [http://www.gmheng.com GMH Engineering, Inc.]
* Miller & Carr Attorneys-at-Law
* Rocketship Engineering

Related Projects

* Roundabout PlayPump
* [http://freeplayfoundation.org Freeplay Foundation]

External links

* [http://capstone.byu.edu/pastprojects.php BYU Mechanical Engineering Capstone Project Page]
* [http://ellisbreathing.blogspot.com/2007/11/empower-playgrounds-commercial.html A commercial for Empower Playgrounds, Inc. designed by BYU student Ellis Elkins]
* [http://www.empowerplaygrounds.org Empower Playgrounds Official Website]
* News article and video. Citation
title=BYUI Student Project to Provide Electricity in Ghana Schools
date=December 2007


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