This spring, Moscow received nine seconds of fame (we counted) on the late-night comedy show, Saturday Night Live, when the city was referred to as the best city in America to raise a family.
While we haven’t seen the data or research behind the claim — and we can’t guarantee the joke that followed using Moscow as a setup was funny — events like the city’s recent aquatic wheelchair unveiling make us think SNL (and the researchers) had it right.
At Moscow’s Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Center on Aug. 14, patrons for the first time rolled into the water of the facility’s activity pool riding special aquatic wheelchairs. The chairs are made of PVC pipe instead of metal and include a seat belt, anti-tip wheels and brakes.
The chairs are available free to patrons.
Our guess is most residents of Moscow did not know the city needed the wheelchairs. And perhaps the city didn’t.
But that’s sort of the point. Cities don’t become “best cities” simply by providing services most families want or need. Best cities provide services families — especially families with added struggles — really deserve.
We think children should be able to play with friends in the pool without having to worry about their personal wheelchairs being damaged.
We think providing water-ready wheelchairs for parents is important so they can roll, and splash and experience the pool alongside their children.
The wheelchairs were paid for by Moscow’s Gritman Medical Center and the nonprofit Stepping Stones Inc., each of which contributed $2,200 to the $5,895 price tag. The city added the remaining $1,495.
The wheelchair effort marks the second major access improvement for Moscow in the past year.
In October, the Moscow Parks and Recreation Department installed the city’s first wheelchair-accessible park swing at East City Park — at a cost of about $34,000, some of that raised and donated by the Moscow High School Buddy Club.
The reason? There was nowhere for children in wheelchairs to go swing, said Moscow Parks and Recreation Director Dwight Curtis. That’s reason enough for us.
We think children in wheelchairs should have the opportunity to swing in a park, just like their friends. Do they need to? Probably not. But do they deserve to? Heck yes.
And if family, friends, their neighborhood and their city have the resources to make it happen, they should make it so.
Because that’s what best cities do.