Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — As a child, some of the best times are spent at the park playing on the swings, but for many children with disabilities that’s been difficult — until now. The Ohio Kiwanis Foundation awarded a $2,100 grant to the Autism Project of Southern Ohio, to purchase and install a wheelchair swing for handicapped children at Millbrook Park in New Boston.
Mike Payton, New Boston councilman and president of the Autism Project of Southern Ohio governing board, said he realized the need when he would see other children playing at the park.
“One of the things I’ve been noticing when I go to ball games is that children come in there to watch their brothers or sisters play, and if they’re in a wheelchair there’s really nothing for them to do,” Payton said. “So I saw pictures and ads in magazines for these wheelchair swings. Basically what it is, it’s kind of like a ramp thing you put the whole chair on. You strap it in, and lock it in, and then there’s a rope the person in the wheelchair can pull to make it go back and forth. If the person can’t do it, a person with them can push them like a regular swing.”
As a member of the New Boston Kiwanis group, Payton wrote the grant request to the Ohio Kiwanis Foundation and it was awarded last winter. This week, workers from the New Boston Service Department began clearing a spot at Millbrook Park to install the new wheelchair swing on an anchored concrete pad, with a new sidewalk allowing wheelchair access to the swing.
“We didn’t want to stick it over in the corner someplace where they’d feel out of place. We want them to feel like they’re part of the other children, so it’s right there with the other swings,” Payton said.
The new wheelchair swing will be dedicated during a public ceremony at Millbrook Park on April 20 with the Autism Project of Southern Ohio and state and local members of Kiwanis.
Before the ceremony begins, the Challenger League will play a brief three-inning baseball game on the field next to the swing. New Boston Village Council has also asked for a resolution declaring April 20 as “Autism Day” in New Boston. That resolution will be brought before council during their next meeting, on April 16, and presented during the dedication ceremony.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.