Family’s efforts put wheelchair swing in Columbiana park

COLUMBIANA – The efforts of three Columbiana siblings have resulted in the installation of a wheelchair swing at Firestone Park.

Noah, Hannah and Rebekah Clark of Parkview Drive held a garage sale at their home on May 25, 2013, to raise money for the swing, estimated to cost more than $2,000.

Their father, Michael Clark, was already anticipating future fundraisers to cover the cost of the swing, but they weren’t needed since the sale was so successful.

“A lot of people came and just gave donations. It really was a community effort financially,” he said.

The project also drew the attention of the Salem Elks, which contacted the Clarks after seeing an article in the newspaper and awarded a $500 grant.

The grant was awarded earlier this year and completed the cost of the swing, which the Clarks purchased.

“We’ve had the swing since May but due to the weather – it hasn’t been really cooperative this year- it was difficult getting the land dry enough to dig,” he said.

The chair was installed at the park a few weeks ago at a location picked out by park staff, which has overseen the project.

The family was put in contact with Park Superintendent Terry Shaffer by the park board after the Clarks told them about their plans.

Shaffer’s assistant, Frank Nulf, also helped with the installation by digging a space near Funland for the swing.

“It should be a convenient location. We didn’t want to put it too far in so that people with wheelchairs didn’t have to go through the grass,” Clark said.

In addition to the park, the Clarks had assistance with the installation from Shawn Pruitt, Shawn Ebben, Rick Noel, friends and members of their church, Greenford Christian.

“It took a few hours. We had to dig posts and post holes and cement and let it sit for a day. We still have it blocked off right now,” he said.

Clark wished to thank Diamond Cut for providing the mulch and stone at a discounted price.

The family is waiting on the city’s signage department, so a sign can be posted explaining how the chair works.

His children decided to go after a wheelchair swing after noticing there wasn’t one in the park on one of their many trips, and they hope their handicapped neighbor will be the first to use it.

“It has been a very good learning experience for them, giving back to the community,” he said.

The children have participated in other community efforts through their church and all three are involved in Boy and Girls Scouts.