NEWBERRY — The City of Newberry unveiled two new accessible wheelchair swings Wednesday afternoon at Marion Davis Park.
The swings, IP15 iSwings, are the first of their kind in the United States. Scott Sawyer, City of Newberry Parks, Recreation and Tourism director said that not only was it a great day in Newberry, but an even greater moment for the special needs community.
“This particular project started in the winter of 2015, so we’re about two years into this. Staff met with some parents of special needs children in spring of 2016 and in September 2016 the City established the first Recreation Accessibility Team,” Sawyer said. “Thankfully in November we secured a Parks and Recreation Development Fund Grant of $30,000. Once that came to fruition, we knew we could upgrade and get the best things for these kids and adults.”
The IP15 iSwings were manufactured by the Inclusive Play Company, based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Liz Rivera, whose grand-daughter will be one of many who can access the IP15 iSwings, expressed her gratitude to those involved in bringing the swings to Newberry.
“We’re real happy that our special children or special adults aren’t forgotten in Newberry. We’re all family and we’re all included. I know that these will get great use from our special community,” Rivera said.
When looking into wheelchair accessible swings, Sawyer turned to the Internet for wheelchair swings that could possibly be brought to Newberry.
“We want people to know that this is something they can do in their community. The cost was a little higher than the U.S. made one, but anybody that comes and sees it can see it is a lot easier to use, it’s better made and sturdy. It’s hard to say what the impact is because it’s the first of their kind. We hope that more people step out to do more things for the special needs community,” Sawyer said.
He added that with the accessible swings, both able-bodied and wheelchair bound children or adults can be included on the playground.
“When we were looking for a site, I drove all over town and realized it had to be right here next to this playground. This is probably the biggest and most used playground we have. It’s something that can make sure the special needs community has something to do when they go to a playground,” Sawyer said.
Mayor Foster Senn echoed Sawyer’s statements saying that now everyone of all abilities can have access to fun, safe playground equipment.
“We’ve been excited about this for a long time, this is truly an exciting day. By doing this we’re making sure we include accessible, fun playground equipment that is for everyone,” he said. “This gives the special needs community an opportunity we’ve never offered before and I’m glad we are now offering it. We’re working to improve the parks one by one and I’m glad that we are having something for everybody and that we can have something that is really cool for the special needs community.”
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.