Thanks in part to the Moscow High School Buddy Club, Moscow's first wheelchair-accessible park swing will be installed this year at East City Park.
"There's nothing for children in wheelchairs to go swing," Moscow Parks and Recreation Director Dwight Curtis said, "so it was just a natural progression, and we're trying really hard to be accessible in all of our facilities, and that includes our parks and playgrounds."
Lena Werner, Buddy Club co-president and MHS senior, said the idea stemmed from the club's adviser after she and her daughter saw a video clip online about a wheelchair-accessible swing. Werner said the adviser then told Werner and Anna Bales, the other Buddy Club president and senior, and both thought it was a great idea.
Werner and Bales then approached the city, which was receptive to the notion.
The Buddy Club promotes inclusion and acceptance of people with all abilities.
Curtis said individuals in wheelchairs will be able to utilize a ramp built into the swing to secure themselves in the swing platform. From there, the person can pull a rope that hangs down and will allow the individual to swing, he said.
Curtis said people using the swing do not need assistance swinging unless they are unable to use their upper body, in which case someone would need to push the swing.
A gate will be installed on the perimeter of the swing to keep park visitors safe when the swing is in use, Curtis said. The city will install the swing late this spring or early summer.
Werner said Moscow is already an accepting and inclusive environment, and the accessible swing will contribute greatly to that feel.
Bales said Buddy Club members and others in wheelchairs who visit East City Park will be able to enjoy a swing like others already do.
"When they go up there in the summer, they just sit and watch, and so it separates them when they shouldn't be separated," Werner said.
The Buddy Club suggested the city install the swing at East City Park due to its central location, Werner said.
"Big things happen there, and it would give so many more people the opportunity to utilize it," Bales said.
The Moscow City Council approved the purchase and installation of the swing during its Feb. 20 meeting.
The purchase, shipping and installation will cost $34,000. Werner said the Buddy Club will try to raise at least $3,000 toward the project, and the city will cover the rest of the cost with money from its Hamilton Fund.
Werner said the club received a $5,000 grant recently, and it will use some of that money to go toward the swing. Bales said the club is actively looking for donations to help reach the $3,000 benchmark.
"One thing we had been looking for was ways to give back to our school and community, and I think that this was a good use for some of that (grant) money," Bales said.
Curtis said he is unsure if there will be more wheelchair accessible swings installed at Moscow parks in the future. He said he needs to see how the first one works out, and, he added, the swings are costly. If the first swing goes well and others are needed, the city will evaluate the situation and expand as resources allow, Curtis said.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.