James and Jennifer Todd had a dream to have wheelchair accessible swings be installed at Riverview Park & Zoo's playground area, and that dream is now becoming a reality.
"We're hoping to have the swings installed and ready for use in about two weeks," the Zoo's Manager & Curator Jim Moloney tells PTBOCanada. "The swings were completely paid for with funds raised by James and Jennifer, who spearheaded this project."
James Todd tells PTBOCanada how the couple came up with the idea to do this:
"Two years ago, we were planning a picnic at the zoo for us and some friends, and my wife realized that our one friend Jenn had a son in a wheelchair. We started asking ourselves what was really offered for him to enjoy there on the playground.
That is when we decided that Peterborough needed wheelchair swings. We phoned the zoo, and talked with the curator Jim about possibilities. That day, a GoFundMe campaign was started, and we figured we'd help with raising maybe $1,000 towards some new swings.
I received an email the next day from Ed Arnold from the Examiner and learned that the pro hockey alumni was donating $2,500 to the cause. Mr. Arnold's article on that Monday morning sparked another $1,000 anonymous donation and started the GoFoundMe getting a lot of attention, including the CBC in Toronto.
A collection at a Peterborough Lakers game generated a fair bit, as well as another anonymous donation of $2,500, and a major donation from the Fowlers Lions/Lioness weekly cruise night. We received donations from as far as New Jersey, and before we knew it, we were over $16,500! We had landscaping donated as well to remove a tree where the swings are being installed.
The zoo still has a cost for fencing, fixing asphalt and the ground covering, so any donations are still extremely appreciated, and can be arranged through the Zoo."
Todd tells PTBOCanada he knew it would be a challenge for these swings to be created, but is ecstatic with the results and how the community got behind this:
"We couldn't be happier at the work of the curator Jim, and the swing manufacturer for making this happen. We cannot wait to see people from all over use these swings.
In some cases, it will be the first time a child, teen, or an adult has ever been on a swing."