By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Lions Park, located in north Newkirk, is filled with a variety of playground equipment that is easily a destination for many of the kids in the community under the summer sun. Not all children have access to the park, however, as not all of the equipment is handicapped-accessible, leaving disabled kids out of the fun. That is all changing, though, as Leadership Newkirk is raising funds for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved swings, and are asking the community to step in to help the children through the project.
The Class of 2020 is the sixth session for the program, but it is the first to perform a community service project, and participants are hoping it will catch on for future classes.
“The class thought a project would be a great thing to do,” said class member Kellie Johnson. “I think we kind of took it on as a challenge.”
It was Johnson who proposed the project during the October 2019 meeting, after members of the Newkirk Go-Getters 4-H club addressed the city about the potential for the swings. The 4-H Club and Leadership Newkirk are working on the project together.
“It’s the right thing to do to make our park inclusive for everyone,” she said. “It’s something the community needs. We don‘t have anything to accommodate people with special needs.”
The project includes the installation of several handicapped-accessible swings, one of which is a platform that wheelchairs can be rolled onto so that children in wheelchairs can enjoy the swing. The swings will be installed on a concrete slab with rubber pieces for protection in case of falls.
To pay for the project, including installation by the company, Leadership Newkirk has engaged in a fundraising campaign, starting Nov. 22, 2019 with a bake salle at Apple Market. The sale alone netted the group about $3,000, as the community came out in earnest to buy homemade goods, ranging from cookies and brownies to cakes and bread.
Leadership Newkirk is also raffling a quilt, handcrafted by volunteers at the Senior Citizens Center. Tickets cost $1 each, or six for $5 and can be found at many locations across the community.
Leadership Newkirk is now planning a fundraiser dinner, to be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the Senior Citizen’s Center. The meal includes pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, chips, a drink and dessert for $8. Children eat for $4.
“All proceeds go to help Leadership Newkirk reach the goal if installing the handicapped swings at Lions Park,” Johnson said.
There will be plenty of activities for the community to participate in that evening, as it is also the open house for the Early Childhood Center at Newkirk Elementary School, only a block east of the Senior Citizens Center, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., and Senior Night for the Tigers and Lady Tigers basketball teams. It is hoped the new gymnasium will be ready for the game.
“We’re really excited to have a dinner on Senior Night, so hopefully we’ll feed the seniors, and raise thoset last bit of funds,” said class member Misty Jordan.
So far, Leadership Newkirk has raised about $6,000 out of a goal of just over $8,000. Once the funds are raised, it is hoped to have the project installed in April or May.
As for the project, class members are proud to serve the community with it, and hope later Leadership Newkirk participants continue serving with their own projects.
“As a leadership team, we want to be the first to start a project, so all leadership teams will take an opportunity to do something for the community,” Jordan said. “Newkirk’s a small town, but we are mighty, and we want to show that to the world.”