Homer Glen Ability Awareness Group purchases specialty swing set for Heritage Park

Volunteers from the Homer Glen Abilities Awareness Committee are raising money during this year’s Homer Fest to purchase a specialized swing for children with special needs.

Committee members and friends and family will work in the Homer Fest beer tent beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday, hoping festival-goers will enjoy the music, have a beer with their neighbors, and be generous when donating. a tip to their bartenders.

Proceeds will help fund the Ability Awareness Committee’s first major purchase, a swing that can be used by children and adults who lack head and neck support, said committee chair Nicole The Ha. The swing would be especially beneficial for people with severe cerebral palsy or spina bifida or who lack head, neck or back control and cannot sit up, La Ha said.

There’s also a therapeutic aspect to it, she says, and it could be used for someone who has sensory overload and may need a place to relax.

The swing could be used by children and adults and would be placed in an area of ​​the village’s main park, Heritage Park, which would be accessible to wheelchairs or strollers, La Ha said.

“We think it will be a nice addition to our park,” she said.

The village council should finally approve the swing and its installation before.

Last year, the Ability Awareness Committee raised around $2,000 through beer tent sales and La Ha hopes to beat that figure this year.

La Ha said the committee strives to meet the needs of people with different abilities.

“It says loud and clear that you are welcome here,” La Ha said. “We see you. We want you to play here. We welcome you with open arms.”

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Committee member and village clerk Christina Neitzke-Troike said that when parents bring a child with special needs to the park with their able-bodied siblings, it’s hard to find activities they can all enjoy.

Parents don’t want their children to feel left out or different, Neitzke-Troike said, which is why the committee’s work is so important.

The Ability Awareness Committee formed in February 2021. Since its inception, the committee has held a pop tab challenge against the village of New Lenox, and two families with special needs have won a trip to Disney World. This month, the Homer Glen family who collects the most pop tabs wins $1,000 and can nominate a family with special needs to also win $1,000.

The committee also held presentations for the community, such as sign language lessons, a panel discussion on understanding individualized education programs, and an information session on how to capture a child’s scent. in a jar in case it gets lost.

La Ha said the group has big ideas such as partnering with the library to create a sensory room and looking for ways to help older people with disabilities. One day they want to create a fully accessible park.

“The possibilities are endless,” she said.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance journalist for the Daily Southtown.

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