In 2017, Palatine Park District was named one of 18 agencies in the state of Illinois to be awarded the 2016 Healthy Play Action Grant from GameTime, a PlayCore company. Grants were part of an Illinois statewide initiative to promote healthy play with the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA), GameTime, and PlayCore. The grant funds were used to replace the playground equipment at Palatine Park District’s Oak Park, a 6.6 acre park located at 455 N. Clark Drive, during the summer of 2017.
Palatine Park District is responsible for 735 acres of open land in Palatine including 50 park and facility locations that are home to 30 playgrounds. The Parks Department inspects and maintains all of the playgrounds to ensure the District is offering safe places to play for the community. Two of the District’s staff members are Certified Playground Safety Inspectors through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and an additional three staff members are certified playground inspectors through the Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA). All of the playgrounds are part of an overall District-wide equipment replacement schedule. Based on inspections and equipment condition, playgrounds are usually replaced every 14-16 years.
Part of the playground replacement process includes the removal of the existing equipment, and that is where the Kids Around the World partnership comes into play. According to the organization’s website, “With one colorful, unique playground, a whole community is transformed, allowing kids to be kids, and to experience a worry-free environment crucial to healthy development. No matter the culture, play is a universal need, an unspoken language that builds bridges to the hearts of the whole family.” The organization harvests commercial grade playground equipment from park districts, schools, and other organizations and the equipment is refurbished and re-installed all across the globe. These new playgrounds are “ideal for impacting kids in countries affected by war, poverty, disease, or natural disaster.” Through the work of this organization, the equipment from Oak Park was installed over 1,700 miles away in Lacroix, Haiti during the summer of 2018. According to Ed Tynczuk, Palatine Park District Superintendent of Parks and Planning, “In addition to the benefits provided to the playground’s new community, the park district benefits as well since the equipment is removed at no charge, saving us the cost of removal.”