Wayne Baptist has been working as an Amenities Supervisor at The City of Calgary Parks department for 38 years and bringing smiles to the faces of children in developing nations for 12 years.
As Amenities Supervisor, Wayne oversees the recycling of used City park equipment and realized that with some extra effort, he could refurbish some of Calgary's playground equipment for other children in need.
"If the equipment doesn't meet the CSA [Canadian Standard Association] requirements, we won't take it. If it's not good enough for our kids, it's not good enough for their kids," says Wayne.
After playground equipment has been removed from a City park, it is brought to the yard where all items get sorted and stripped of any concrete in the base. Items that are rusted get recycled in a metal bin, while others deemed adequate for refurbishment are either fixed up here or at their final destination with the help of volunteers.
Equipment that has passed the CSA's guidelines then gets loaded into a shipping container and will be assembled on site. Assembly includes everything from digging holes, cementing the equipment in place, laying out the fall surface, painting, and coordinating a grand opening event.
Baptist and his crew, which includes a dozen students from Master's Academy & College, The Emmanuel Foundation, and the SunWest Christian Fellowship, have installed playground equipment in over 30 countries – this year it went to delighted children in Cuba.
The group typically gets donations from across Alberta for paint, bicycles, supplies and new equipment.
"We actually have to educate the kids that have never had a playground on how to slide, swing, the whole thing; and they're just full of smiles," says Wayne, which he admits is the best part of the program.