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From MN to Lebanon: How a Twin Cities playground ended up at a Syrian refugee camp

Many kids at Syrian refugee camps have never used a playground before.

This playground used to be in Woodbury, Minnesota. Now it's halfway across the world, being enjoyed by kids at a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon.

That's about 6,000 miles away.

According to a recent post on the Woodbury Parks and Recreation Facebook page, the city donated Timberlea playground in 2015 to a nonprofit called Kids Around the World. The organization works to better the lives of children in war-ravaged and poverty-stricken communities.

So Kids Around the World fixed up the play area, and installed it at a Syrian refugee camp in November.

It's a big deal for the kids who've settled at those camps.

The Woodbury Bulletin says the playground is basically a "safe area" for the kids. And the park gets a lot of use, considering it could be the first playground many kids there have ever used.

"These kids don't smile. Life is hard on them," Paul Bierhaus, a board member for Kids Around the World, told the newspaper "When they see that playground and realize it's for them, their faces just light up, and they go nuts when they get the chance to play on that playground."

The Syrian Regional Refugee Response says more than a million refugees have settled in Lebanon. About 40 percent are 11 years old or younger.

The Woodbury paper says the Twin Cities metro area has donated 85 playgrounds through Kids Around the World in the last five years.

If you'd like to read more about what it's like to be a kid in a Syrian refugee camp, Time magazine did a feature in 2015 explaining how the children search for joy in the tiniest things. And last year, the Guardian released a bunch of photos showing what it's like to live in a camp.

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