When Mr. Ben Mrakham, President Empower Playgrounds, volunteered in Ghana, he encountered the hardships the country was facing. The problem that particularly caught his attention was the lack of lighting in the rural schools and dwellings. This happened in 2006, the same year when he came up with an ingenious idea. “A merry go round that produces energy”
The idea initially seemed vague and impractical; but with passing time Empower playgrounds made it possible. The ride is like a regular merry go round, where kids take turns riding and pushing. What makes it different is its mechanism. The deck of the ride is placed on the top of a hub bearing with a drive shaft, which is then connected to a helical gearbox for ramping up the revolutions. This stimulates the windmill generator, which then generates electricity. The electricity is then transmitted through a buried cable that transmits the current to a DC convertor so that it can be stored in a deep cycle battery. A solar panel is also enclosed to keep the battery topped up during the school holidays.
The Energizer Battery Corporation, a sponsor of Empower Playgrounds has also designed an LED lantern that provides 40 hours of light with a single charge. These can be donated to the schools and families through company’s official website as well. Markham, former Vice president at ExxonMobil who retired in early 2004 to embark on his trip to Ghana, installed the first of the prototype of the ride in 2008. With more people like him we may see a brighter future in even the most under developed parts of the globe.