As Kate got taller and heavier last year, we realized in slow motion that she was about to graduate out of the standard infant bucket swing at our local park. It was great while it lasted, but there is no doubt we pushed the swing’s limits. In the end, if you could manage to lift her into the swing by yourself, the surprise waiting at the end of your swing session was that she was a whole lot tougher to extricate because her legs and braces would get caught in the bucket. The extent to which strangers will prefer to stare and marvel versus actually offering to lend a hand is a bit of a stunner.
Nevertheless, our favorite town park didn’t have any special needs or handicapped accessible swings, so we moved on and surveyed the dozen or so other parks our town offers and they didn’t have any either.
So we stewed for a couple of weeks. We estimated there to be more than 50 individual swings in town and Kate wasn’t able to use any of them. The concept of raging at Town Hall and provoking the local special needs attorney to start a legal light-saber battle with the town seemed cinematically romantic for all of 3 seconds. Instead, Sarah wrote a great letter to the head of the Town Commission in charge of Our Favorite Oceanside Park. In a nutshell, they responded in less than a week with this: “You’re right. We don’t have any special needs swings in town and we’d like to be pro-active about getting one. Are there any swings you would recommend? Oh, and by the way, we just talked to the town Rotary Club and they’ve offered to pay for the swing and the installation.” Right then, a double rainbow descended the sky and a unicorn walked through it.
Forgive the sarcasm, but in the world of special needs advocacy, no one ever says “yes” off the cuff, trust us. It’s usually, “No. Absolutely not. Well, maybe. Come get it,” and then you get the opportunity to walk on hot coals.
So a huge THANK YOU to the Branford Rotary Club and our town’s Memorial Park Commission for sparing us the hot coals and, more importantly, for providing Kate and so many other special needs kids (and teenagers) a swing to call their own. They even placed it strategically under a beautiful tree in the shade. Thanks again!