A new swing designed for children with disabilities was unveiled Aug. 25 at Campbell-Chapman Park in Sullivan.
The Liberty Swing is not just an ordinary swing, according to Anne Lieber with ABILITY Developmental Services of Franklin County. She said it provides children with the feeling of riding a roller coaster.
“It gives a lot sensory input for our clients, which a lot of our clients need. And a lot of older clients really don’t get to do anything like this,” Lieber said.
Those in wheelchairs can also ride the swing, and the swing is suitable for children with Down syndrome, autism and other special needs.
“You can go on the swing with your caregiver or if you’re big enough, you can go on it (by) yourself,” Lieber said.
She added that the swing meets all safety requirements. A key is needed to open the swing and children are buckled in for safety. There is a soft fall, or padding, around the swing if children were to climb on it and fall down. The manufacturer also requires a gate around the swing.
Christine Duncan said her son Kolton, who has special needs, really enjoys the swing. She said she likes how this swing is more secure and she does not have to worry about him holding on to chains like on a regular swing.
“It’s a lot different than riding a regular swing,” Duncan said. “It gives you the feeling of a roller coaster, like if you’re going down a hill, it kind of gives you that swish in your belly.”
Duncan, who also works for ABILITY Developmental Services of Franklin County, said she has noticed positive effects on her clients when she takes them to the swing.
“I have some (clients) who don’t speak very often, but you take them for a swing ride and they’ll be talkative.
“It’s really neat to see teh effect it has on them,” she said.
Before the swing in Sullivan was built, Lieber said her clients had to travel to Union to ride the Liberty Swing at Union City Park.
The idea for the Liberty Swing in Sullivan came after Lieber was approached by a woman who said her nephew has special needs. A group of people from Ability, Atro Engineered Systems and the city of Sullivan formed the Partnership for Disability Awareness committee to raise funds for the swing, according to Lieber.
The swing was manufactured and shipped from Australia. The total cost was $29,000; $12,000 for the swing and $10,000 for the cushion around the swing, among other costs Lieber said.
The committee received donations and contributions from Atro Engineered Systems, the city of Sullivan, community businesses, families, Missouri Vinyl Products and the United Way.
Funds were also raised from the Disability Awareness Fair that took place for three years in Sullivan, according to Lieber.
“We got a lot of really good donations, but really the most important thing we got out of it was awareness for our clients with disabilities,” she said.
“It took a lot of effort and a lot of education on disabilities awareness.”
Duncan said this project took a lot of hard work, but was also a lot of fun.
“We’re really happy that it’s here and people are using it,” she said.
In the future, Duncan said she would like to see the park become an all-abilities park, similar to the one in Washington.
“I would kind of like to build from the swing and go out from there,” she said.