Mitchell Kiwanis Club
The Mitchell Kiwanis Club is very excited for the year 2021. It will be our 100th Anniversary. For a town of about 15,000, this is no small feat as you know. During the 100 hundred years we have accomplished many things both locally and through Kiwanis International. One of the things we are most proud of is the Kiwanis Woodlot Park which is located just south of Lake Mitchell.
Unfortunately, at this point none of the 12 parks in Mitchell offer much for inclusive playground equipment, including the Kiwanis Woodlot Park. It is our club’s goal to remedy this deficit. In order for our group to get a greater understanding of how important inclusive equipment is to the community, we interviewed Jessica, the president of Mitchell’s Advisory Council for People with Disabilities and the parent of a disabled child. Here is what she had to say.
“As a mom of a child with a disability, I can only tell you that the heartache you feel when your child is unable to meet milestones is terrible. It only grows as the child gets older and you see other kids their age doing things that you want them to do. It is heartbreaking to see other kids at the park swing and play on equipment your child can’t access. It is hard when you have other children who want to go to the park, but you don’t want to take their sibling with a disability there because they have nothing they can do and have to watch from the side lines.
Anders is just like everyone else; he knows that parks are fun; he wants to feel the rush of swinging on a swing or spinning on a merry-go-round. Anders can’t hold on to the chains of a swing or have the ability to balance on the seat or understand the need to balance on the seat. An adaptive swing allowed him to swing with his friends at school and do the same thing they did, participate, instead of watching from the side lines. Why shouldn’t he have that opportunity? He did not ask to have a disability. Not only does making a playground accessible to all, it includes those without disabilities as well. They are able to swing on the adaptive swings, play on the adaptive merry go round and equipment that excludes no one. In addition, it helps the kids in Anders’ peer group realize by thinking outside of the box they can make other things accessible for people with disabilities. Plus, it teaches them to be a better advocate for others because they know that things can be created to include others. It teaches kids to include everyone no matter what their ability, color, religion, etc.”
We truly believe this project will also enable adults with disabilities to participate with their children and grandchildren as well. My mother was a victim of polio, who would have given anything to have been able to swing with her kids and grandkids. And the idea of going on a merry-go-round with them would have pleased her in ways words can’t describe.
The Mitchell Kiwanis is fortunate enough to have the complete support of the City Parks and Recreation Department. This means they are willing to maintain and update the park. The city has a rotation they use to update the equipment at the local parks. In our case, they are willing to change the rotation to accommodate our 100th anniversary. In addition, they will provide free labor for any additional equipment we can purchase and any specifications we may need in order to make everything wheelchair accessible. Our club has been anticipating these updates and by the time of the groundbreaking, we should have $15,000 to contribute to the project. We truly believe this is the time to get this done and are willing to take any steps to make our vision happen.