"Most people are compassionate and understanding."
Jennifer Reddicks, 32, of Westfield, Illinois, serves on a committee that works to make parks and playgrounds accessible to children and families with special needs.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Jennifer: I am currently on the Casey In Action - Playground Action Committee (CIA-PAC). We are working to make our park accessible to families with special mobility needs. Some of the areas we are currently addressing are the playground area, the swimming pool, and the picnic areas. We are working with families and their children to help meet their needs in a social environment. These youth, along with their friends and families, are helping in our fundraising efforts by having garage sales, selling candy, burgers, helping with posters, and giving their time.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Jennifer: Casey In Action - Playground Action Committee. We are located in Casey, Illinois.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefits from this work.
Jennifer: Our goals for the park include replacing the existing wood chips in the playground area with poured rubber surfacing so our playground equipment can be used by all. We would also like to add handicapped accessible pieces to our existing equipment and provide a variety of swings for a variety of needs. We would also like to see ADA compliant picnic tables and getting a lift for our community pool.
What inspired you to get involved?
Jennifer: My daughter is my inspiration. While she is now 15, I can still remember her being excluded as a child because she couldn't get to the equipment because it was not accessible. My daughter was born with cerebral palsy and uses many medical devices to assist her with walking. We who are not disabled take for granted how easy it is to get around and do many daily activities. But this was not, and still is not my daughter's case. It is our dream that no other child will feel excluded during playtime. After all, playtime is where children learn, and no child should miss out on that chance!
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Jennifer: I was asked by a member of Casey In Action to come and join their Playground Action Committee because they knew my daughter and believed I could give them valuable information about the needs of special children.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Jennifer: Hands down the best part is not feeling alone in my dreams and desires to see all children allowed to be kids and to be able to freely play in an environment. Giving back to others is a way to give thanks for the many people who have helped our family. It will also be my honor to one day see other children reaping the rewards of our efforts!
What was the biggest surprise?
Jennifer: The generosity of others in their time, talents, and resources. Their relentless effort to complete what we have started and to go above and beyond, and searching every possible idea in a loving, compassionate manner.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Jennifer: I have learned that not all people look down on others who are different than them. Most people are compassionate and understanding. When given a chance, people who are "different" teach us the most!
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