Of the many childhood memories I have, one comes to mind often; the day I was on my first swing set. I remember feeling like I could touch the sky and always wanted to be pushed higher. That love of chasing the clouds only intensified when my parents gave me my own swing set. Life just didn’t get better than that for a six-year-old. I can’t imagine not being able to be on a swing set and feel the wind in my hair and get as close to the clouds as possible, but for children who are in wheelchairs, unless there is a specially designed swing set, this joy that most of us take for granted as children isn’t possible. With the goal of bringing the joy of a swing set to children who are wheelchair users, IFB Solutions, the Kiwanis Club of Clemmons, the Carolina Kiwanis District Foundation, and Scout Troop 964 have joined to purchase and install one of a few of our state’s only swing sets designed to accommodate wheelchair-bound children, located on the playground of Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse in Winston-Salem, NC.
When Good People Come Together, Good Things Happen
It was through the networking of good people that the special swing set project came to be.
“Local Lewisville, NC, resident, Joel Schanker, volunteers at IFB Solutions and is also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Clemmons. Through his work with IFB Solutions, Joel met Chris Flynt, Director of Programs and Community Vision Centers. Chris also is responsible for the S.E.E. (Student Enrichment Experience) program, which includes Tracy’s Little Red School House, a place where blind and visually impaired kids learn skills to be as independent as possible in a sighted world. “We have four participants in our S.E.E. program who are wheelchair-bound, so it was evident the positive addition of the swing set would be to Tracy’s Little Red School House. In our S.E.E. program, we have a member of Scout Troop 964, so things fell into place with the troop being involved, too,” said Chris Flynt, Director of Programs and Community Low-Vision Centers with IFB Solutions. It’s one thing to have a good idea, but getting people behind the idea is another, especially during a pandemic.
Joel Schanker, IFB Solutions volunteer and member of the Kiwanis Club of Clemmons, was involved with this project from the beginning. “What was interesting about this project to me was that it took eighteen months to complete, because our two vendors fell through. Finally, we used Swingset Mall, then we had the pandemic and school closings to deal with. But all involved stayed with it all, focused on giving children in wheelchairs the joy of a swing set. The funding, a little over $3,500, came from the Kiwanis Club of Clemmons and the Carolinas District Kiwanis Foundation. Members of the Kiwanis Club of Clemmons committed close to 50 hours of work throughout the acquisition and installation. Troop 964 joined us to assemble the swing set. This was a complete community effort, and seeing the swing set in use for the first time reminded us of what the project was truly about,” Joel commented.
Reaching for the Sky
The swing set is for registered S.E.E. children that want to feel the wind in their hair, reaching the sky a little at a time. Chris Flynt stated, “In addition to my role with IFB Solutions, I am also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Clemmons, so this was an extra-special project. Within the S.E.E. programs, we have four kids that are wheelchair users. They have use of the swing set during business hours and programming activities. Because the use of the swing set requires some assistance when loading the wheelchair, we ask that use of it be reserved, so there is a staff member at the area to help.”
It is often the little things in life that are taken for granted, and many go a lifetime before they realize that. Fortunately, the volunteers involved in this worthwhile project knew the joy of a swing set and have brought it to kids who may never have been able to experience it.
For more information on Tracy’s Little Red School House or the swing set for wheelchair-bound children, contact Kim Flanagan at [email protected] or call 336-245-5669.