SMILE Almost to Goal for Beach Wheelchairs on Cape
The lack of an accessible swing for her son to use led Lotte Diomede to approach the Sudbury, MA Park and Recreation Department. The vision was small - how does one go about installing a handicap swing?
Little did she know that the timing was perfect. Little Tykes, a playground equipment vendor, had just given Sudbury the opportunity to apply for a grant given by Boundless Playground in the amount of $125,000 to create a completely accessible playground. The mother of a child with multiple disabilities, Lotte soon got to work asking friends and family to support her in this amazing opportunity.
A group of local parents soon got involved. Some built a website, others started to build a database, an accountant was sworn in (who also served on the Commission on Disability). The project took off! Lots of local events took place to raise money and awareness. All in all Smile Sudbury raised over $140.000 above the $125.000 grant awarded.
In October of 2009 the playground opened. It was the first playground on public grounds incorporating the principals of Universal Design in Middlesex County. Now children, both those with disabilities and the able-bodied, play together in amazing numbers.
Keeping the momentum of that success alive, Lotte teamed with Susan Brown, also a mother of a disabled child, who worked on the playground project. Together, they formed SMILE Mass (Small Miracles In Life Exist), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
The dual mission of SMILE Mass will be approached in two phases; Phase I will raise the funds to donate one hundred beach wheelchairs to towns on Cape Cod, beach wheelchairs capable of being used on the sand as well as in the ocean waters.
This will have the effect of giving immediate relief to families with children of disabilities, allowing them to have a day at the beach, previously an almost impossible task.
Phase II will focus on raising the significantly greater amount needed to locate and renovate a suitable Cape Cod property. That home will offer state-of-the-art services to accommodate the broadest range of children with disabilities, being aesthetically pleasing, luxurious and comforting while meeting Universal Design standards, as well as the meeting the complex requirements differing disabilities will bring.
Staff for both child care and hospitality will be provided to assist the families in transitioning from home to vacation as seamlessly as possible. The intent is to use this experience as a template to duplicate at other vacation sites throughout the country.
You can help us accomplish our mission:
Think about any vacation with children, usually an exercise in complex logistics to deal with transportation, housing, meals, and organizing fun experiences to significantly impact the concepts of escape and respite.
For families with a disabled member, the complexity and difficulties are magnified to such a degree that, for most, a vacation becomes impossible to imagine much less accomplish. Yet, these families are often more in need of respite than those of normative families.
Caregivers of children with disabilities need additional supports to alleviate the emotional and physical stresses, as well as the financial burdens they face.
Studies show parents with children of disabilities spend twenty or more hours a week performing home health care for their children, have more financial strains that cause increased stress, possibly leading to poorer emotional and physical health, with the potential to escalate into neglect or abuse.
Please help us see our vision come to fruition. Your assistance is needed; financially, as a volunteer in our fundraising projects, or as a conduit to give us entree to corporations and local foundations.
SMILE Mass has reached the point in Phase I that it is ready to begin placing beach wheelchairs in selected Cape Cod towns.
We need your help to complete Phase I, which is to purchase 100 beach wheelchairs. Please join us on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 12:00 noon at Chapin’s Restaurant, 85 Taunton Ave., Dennis, MA to see the Mobi-chair beach wheelchair and learn about SMILE Mass and how you can help. Please RSVP to email@example.com if you are able to join us.