Sunday, September 28, 2014

• Freedom Swing Ribbon Cutting/Maiden Voyage

September 27th was the day that Marna O'Brien Park had a wheelchair swing, known as The Freedom Swing, dedicated for use. It was the brainchild of local resident, then thirteen years old, Ashley Fox, a girl scout bidding to earn her Silver Award... and coincidentally a person confined to a wheelchair to get around.


A good sized crowd turned out to see the ribbon cutting, including Mayor Marsha Swanson, Council Members Bridgette Moore, Tim Walker and City Council Candidate Israel Leija. A representative from Melissa Melendez's office and a rep from State Senate Candidate Bonnie Garcia's camp attended. PV Maintenance, the contractors that donated the installation of the swing, and Lake Elsinore Storm's mascot Thunder too (he, and his bosses, brought a donation check of $1000 with them).

The ribbon cutting was set for 5:30pm and the installation crew was just finishing attaching the swing to the frame at 5:00pm. I had a chance to watch Ashley make a test run of it, but it still being a brand new device, no one knew exactly how it worked. She actually took her first ride in it, backward.

Test drive... in reverse.

After a brief ceremony, with Mayor Marsha Swanson presiding, and a certificate of recognition for Ashley's accomplishment (raising more than $5000 for this swing) and sticking with it for more than six months of fundraisers, and even an installation delay of a month due to shipping issues, the symbolic ribbon was cut and the first official rides on the swing were had.

Kaylynn Turner, Ashley Fox and Thunder team up to cut the ribbon.

The rest of the story is told in the video below. You'll see the "test drive" of the swing, the introductions by Mayor Marsha Swanson, some background on the project by Bridgette Moore, a certificate of recognition from Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez's office, a check from the Lake Elsinore Storm for $1000 and a few words from Ashley on the project. You'll also see the swing being used by several people in wheelchairs, including Ashley's grandmother. She said it was her first time on a swing in 60 years.


You'll have to forgive the shortcomings of the audio, the microphone reacted poorly with the breeze.


Below is a montage of a few pictures during installation.

My only worry is about possible vandalism to the swing. When I was a young teen, I would have wondered how much abuse it would be able to take... or how well that padding was really glued down. In those days, I had no idea that my unbridled curiosity —as to an object's breaking point— would affect other people or the community. Let's hope such curiosity isn't overly represented by those that might chance upon the Freedom Swing in 2014 and beyond.




6 comments:

  1. Hope you enjoyed a ride last night. 6 months preparation for the day this swing would swing and the day after one has to ask, where is it ?. Its Sunday morning the day after all the hoopla and the swing is locked away behind closed doors because no one planned ahead. Unlike other apparatuses located in the Tot-Lots that have anti-theft devices holding them in place this swing has numerous safety chains that can easily removed, in fact the whole swing is held on with S-hooks and can be removed in 2 seconds. There was no planning on who would put up, take down and instruct in the use of this backyard contraption (self explanatory is why everyone entered backwards to start).
    Kenny Mayes

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    Replies
    1. Kenny,
      Fair points. These kinds of questions should have been asked and hammered out much earlier. The person in charge should have asked the manufacturer and spoken to other municipalities that have installed similar devices on how best to set up that portion of it.

      I've long tried to incorporate my understanding of an old French proverb, "I'm in a hurry, so I'm going to dress slowly." Which I take to mean, it's better to do it slowly (and completely) the first time, than to do it more than once.

      When I asked about it, I was told that it will get a locking device for it... it would have been great if that all had come together at the same time.

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    2. You need to keep in mind Kenny that shipping was delayed by a week and then we had a serious flood 1 1/2 weeks ago during construction. Yesterday was the first chance we had to play with it and look at all the things that need to be tweaked. Never fear a plan is in place and the swing will be up shortly for everyone who needs it.

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    3. I forgot to mention the swing had to be in place by the end of September for the Silver Award per Girl Scout Guilde-lines as Ashley is bridging. It made it a bit of a time crunch with the unforeseeable delays.

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  2. It was not "6 months or preparation." Ashley started fundraising 6 months ago. The swing wasn't even delivered to Wildomar until the middle of August.

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  3. Ashley you did an awesome job. What a wonderful contribution to the community and great way to raise awareness of the need in our parks so they can be enjoyed by ALL children. Congratulations on your Silver Award. It's projects like these that remind people Girl Scouts is more than just cookies. Thank you!

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