A project worthy of the community's support
● By Steven Hoffman
The day will come. It will be a crisp, fall afternoon that is bathed in golden light, or, perhaps more appropriately, a warm spring morning when the sun is bright and the sky is cloudless and blue. On this day, a group of children—boys and girls of all different abilities—will gather together at the Oxford Memorial Park to play side by side on new, inclusive playground equipment that can be enjoyed by all.
The day will come, and when it does, it will be a good day.
For the last few years, an effort has been underway to raise approximately $155,000 to install inclusive playground equipment that is designed specifically to allow children with special needs to play alongside their brothers, sisters, and friends. Currently, the playground equipment at Oxford Memorial Park—indeed at most parks—can't be safely enjoyed by youngsters who have special needs. Consequently, they are often unable to play alongside their brothers and sisters and friends during trips to the park. Most families who have children with special needs simply don't visit the park because there is nothing there for their children to enjoy.
At the most recent Oxford Borough Council meeting, council member Paul Matthews, a driving force behind the effort to bring inclusive playground equipment to Oxford Memorial Park, talked about how the fundraising campaign is slowly, but surely, progressing toward its goal. The campaign is well past the halfway point, thanks to strong community support. The Oxford Rotary Club has taken the lead on the initiative, planning several fundraising events and forming the Oxford Rotary Foundation as a non-profit so that funds could be sought from other foundations and through private donations.
Just last month, the Oxford Presbyterian Church held its popular annual Apple Festival, and proceeds of that event were pledged to support the playground project.
Overall, nearly $100,000 has already been raised, and Oxford Borough Council has authorized Borough Manager Brian Hoover to seek a $10,000 grant that would help move the project closer toward the goal. This grant would help pay for sidewalk improvements at the park that will be designed to allow anyone with mobility issues to have access to the park and the new playground equipment.
There is no other inclusive playground in the area that has accessible playground equipment right next to standard playground equipment so that all children, regardless of their abilities, can play side by side.
An inclusive playground was a good idea when the project started, and it's still a good idea today. This project is certainly worthy of the community's support, and we hope that the day when children will be enjoying the new playground equipment arrives very soon.
The Oxford Rotary Club has a Facebook page with more information, and contributions to support the purchase of the inclusive playground equipment can be sent to the Oxford Rotary, P.O. Box 27, Oxford, PA 19363.