What’s that for, Anyway?

What’s that for, Anyway?

My favorite thing to do when my parents pulled into a parking spot at the Deerfield Park playground, was to make a beeline straight for the swings, and eagerly await one of them to push me. I could stay on the swings for hours. I know that many of you felt the same way, because oftentimes, it was difficult to find an open swing.

While many can participate in the playground fun, unless the park has an ADA approved swing, children with disabilities can find themselves left out. Luckily, Deerfield Park has one of these swings, which allows children of all abilities to be able to play without constrictions. Unfortunately, through lack of information, this piece of essential play equipment has been misused over the years, and earlier this year, found itself unusable and broken. This is frustrating for the kids whose only option for playground equipment is this swing, and frustrating for the parents of these children, who want to be able to watch their child enjoy a day at the park.

But what is an adaptive swing? According to the website for Backyard Solutions LLC, which sells this equipment, it states, “swings for special-needs kids are designed to meet all ADA standards, ensuring that you remain in compliance with federal regulations concerning the disabled children playing on your property… Children can have comfortable accommodation in these uniquely adaptive swings. Playing on an adaptive swing can also help children develop their vestibular system, the sensory system responsible for maintaining body position in response to movement, gravity, and balance. Swinging helps children to address the challenges posed by gravity more effectively, allowing them to improve their balance, equilibrium, and coordination in a safe and supported manner.” There are weight and age limits for these swings that are to be worked out individually.

Concerned parent, Kristen Ricciardelli, reached out to us about the impact the broken swing has had on her and her child.

“My son just uses this swing all the time because it’s the only piece of equipment Smithfield has that’s adaptive for larger children… Unfortunately, it is unsafe for him to utilize anything else.”

She mentioned that a few other parents were impacted by the broken swing as well. She took to the Smithfield Special Education Local Advisory Committee (SSELAC) Facebook page where she created a post to educate the community on the swing. In response, one parent responded, “I had no idea that is what it was! All this time I was wondering why a swing like this would make sense simply because it’s always full of so many kids. It seemed so unsafe. Now it makes total sense. A sign would be amazing!”

Kristen felt as though a lack of education and awareness on the swing and its function is what led to its misuse and hoped to work in tandem with the city to raise awareness.

I reached out to Senator David Tikoian to check on the progress of the repairs, and I was happy to hear that as of Memorial Day, the swing was up and back in working order. Once he connected with Kristen to discuss the swing and any preventative measures that could be taken, he researched the use and importance of the equipment and immediately got to work.

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