Winnetka, IL; October 17 – A heartwarming celebration of renewal and remembrance unfolded at Nick Corwin Park playground Thursday, October 12, 2023. The event was a tribute to the profound significance of this cherished park within the Winnetka community, while also acknowledging the tireless efforts of Winnetka resident Jake Claybrook and the Winnetka Park District in making a difference half a world away.
Nick Corwin Park, named in memory of a local boy who tragically lost his life in 1988 to gun violence, has long been a symbol of resilience within the Winnetka community. The recent transformation of its playground and the equipment’s journey to West Africa stand as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives.
Jake Claybrook, a Troop 18 Eagle Scout, championed the cause of dismantling, shipping, and reconstructing the previous playground equipment for children at an after-school enrichment program in the Western Region of Ghana, West Africa as part of his Eagle Scout project.
The project was completed in collaboration with the Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners. Teresa Claybrook, former commissioner of the Winnetka Park District and Jake Claybrook’s mother, shared the experience of rebuilding the playground equipment in Ghana, saying, “Most of the children in Ghana had never played on a playground before. They had never even seen one. On the last day, as the playground was coming together, the entire community came and surrounded us as we worked to put the finishing touches on their new playground. It was truly remarkable to feel the excitement in their community and know that those kids would experience playing on a playground equipment for the first time in their lives.”
Phil Andrew, a dedicated member of the Winnetka community who played a role in diffusing the tragic day in which Nick Corwin was killed, attended the grand re-opening of Nick Corwin Park playground. He highlighted the profound impact of the project, saying, “Giving back to a community in Ghana is a beautiful example of the positive ripple that can come from capturing the joyous life that Nicky Corwin was in the midst of living and seeing that cascade through our community and across the ocean into Ghana. To stand here today and hear about kids going to school, just so they can play on a playground, is so impactful and embodies the essence of what this park was built on.”
Linda Corwin, mother of the young Nick Corwin, expressed her heartfelt appreciation, “I hope that the families in Ghana and in Winnetka experience the joy that Nick brought to us. Nick loved people, and I love all of you, the very special Village of Winnetka. Your support is meaningful.”
Nick Corwin Park’s revitalized playground serves as a heartwarming reminder of the enduring bond shared by the Winnetka community and the legacy of young Nick Corwin. It symbolizes the goodwill that transcends borders and cultures, emphasizing the importance of giving back to those in need.