Greetings from the virtual hub of the North Conway Community Center. Thank you to all who cast absentee ballots and drive-thru ballots last week. We are so grateful for the support we have felt from Conway voters this year for our warrant article funding. This funding comes at a time when we truly need it.

This week, we would like to pause and look toward a hopeful project that is in the works. A committee was formed in 2019 to investigate how to best renovate or replace our outdoor play structure to create a more accessible and inclusive space.

The committee is composed of community members and North Conway Community Center board members. The group met at the end of 2019 to reimagine what our play structure could be.

There were ideas of smooth, even surfacing for people with mobility challenges, sensory stations, wide ramp play structures to accommodate wheelchairs, and outdoor exercise equipment to include adults. This imaginative brainstorm was focused around a central goal to create an inclusive space.

The inspiration behind these efforts started on June 14, 2019, when local 13-year-old, Jordan Rendleman, wrote us a letter requesting handicap-accessible playground equipment and promised to dedicate his summer to fundraising for the cause. Jordan jump-started this project with his ideas and action.

In his letter, Jordan described his experience of coming to the playground with his friend whose 3-year-old sister was in a wheelchair.

He wrote, “Oftentimes during the summer, we meet our friends at the playground to hang out for the day. My best friend’s 3-year-old sister is disabled and in a wheelchair. She is unable to enjoy the playground like the rest of us.”

Jordan committed to fundraising during the summer of 2019.

In his letter, he proposed, “I am willing to dedicate my summer to raising money for this new equipment if you are willing to use the money to add some handicap wheelchair accessible equipment to your playground.”

After word of Jordan’s efforts spread, a chain reaction of engagement followed. Lionel Tetreault enthusiastically volunteered to host a spaghetti dinner, donating his time and ingredients to do so. The Knights of Columbus were also inspired by Jordan’s heartfelt idea and volunteered their time at the dinner. Story Land caught wind and sent an unsolicited check for $1,000.

"I got involved because of a young boy's dream,” said committee member Jennifer Robinson. “I feel like everyone can make a difference! I would love to see the idea of an all-inclusive outdoor area become a reality for our community regardless of age or ability."

After a whirlwind of enthusiasm, we are pleased to have $3,240 set aside for the project. We look forward to reconvening with the committee in the future to continue planning efforts. If you have any ideas for a more inclusive outdoor space, please visit our contact page at northconwaycommunitycenter.org/contact-us or email carrie@northconwaycommunitycenter.org.

With our playground currently closed, this project brings us a beacon of hope for the future. We can’t wait to see people of all ages and abilities coming together safely in our outdoor space again.

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