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'It would be life changing': Poplar Hill Lions Club fundraising for wheelchair-accessible swing


Olivia McIntosh loves to swing.

Unfortunately, in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy (CP) and a global delay, the 17-year old from Ilderton, Ont. needs at least two people to help lift her and get her seated.

“Olivia is 17 but in her mind she's about two years old,” explained Ashley McIntosh, Olivia’s mother. “Once they turn like 12, people usually forget about them because they don't look like the kids anymore, but our little ones still want to play.”

After hearing similar stories, the Poplar Hill and District Lions Club decided to do something about it.

They are fundraising for a wheelchair-accessible swing.

“I was walking one time in the park here [Poplar Hill], and there was a grandfather and grandmother that were trying to lift their grandchild, and they were struggling,” said Rick Castle, a member of the local Lions Club. “I said, ‘There's got to be a different way or is a better way.’ That’s when we decided to look into the wheelchair-accessible swing.”

Olivia McIntosh, 17, of Ilderton, Ont. loves to swing, but needs help from her wheelchair into a regular swing. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

In just over a year, they have raised thousands of dollars towards their fundraising goal, but are looking for community members, businesses and sponsors to jump on board.

“With bottles and cans only, we’ve got $15,000,” said Castle. “It's quite expensive, like over $80,000. We have a GoFundMe now, and we're trying to spearhead this.”

It would mean the world to people like Katherine Doxtator.

“Usually when we come to events, we sit and watch everybody else play on the swings or on the equipment,” said Leslie-Anne Steeper-Doxtator. “For us to get her into one of the swings over here, we would have to lift her in. And that means we have to have a number of people, like at least two to three. And that always isn't possible.”

Duncan McIntosh lifts his daughter Olivia, 17, into a swing at the park in Poplar Hill, Ont. on May 11, 2024. She loves to swing, but with cerebral palsy and a global delay, she can’t get in by herself. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

According to Castle, there are only three wheelchair-accessible swings in southwestern Ontario. They are in Barrie and Toronto, with the closest to the London area in Brantford.

“This would be life changing,” said Ashley. “Little guys can come in wheelchairs and still get to feel the freedom of the swing. But the older kids and the adults will be able to experience that too. They look like adults but they're still little kids in their brain. So we need to give them that kind of like push and play so they can still keep growing every day.”

Castle believes having this swing could also be a revenue generator.

“This park is rented out for family gatherings and if they knew there was a wheelchair swing here, they would come from all over the place including Windsor and Sarnia,” he said. 

The Poplar Hill and District Lions Club is fundraising for a wheelchair-accessible swing like this one. It allows people to wheel their chair right into place. (Source: Landscape Structures) Top Stories

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