Students with special needs at the Orleans-Niagara BOCES in Newfane have brand new swings to play on thanks to the hard work of a teaching assistant, and that is why she's this week's Good Neighbor.
Until now, some children could only sit off to the side of the playground and watch others play, because their physical disabilities kept them off the swings.
"The kids are our first priority and making them happy. Not just teaching them. We want to make them happy," said teaching assistant Stephanie Wilson.
It would take three teachers aides to help one child swing; another child would have to sit on their laps. It was neither practical nor safe.
"It was difficult because they'd be sliding off. And they'd be screaming with delight, but it was precarious," said Wilson.
So Wilson took it upon herself to change that and she went to the Newfane Lions Club for help.
"When Stephanie got a hold of me, I thought this was a fantastic way to serve the community, which is what Newfane Lines do," said Pam Henderson, the president at that time of the Newfane Lions.
"Pam made it easy for me when it came to the funds. She fought and would not let go," said Wilson.
It took 9 months to get the proper paperwork in order. It cost approximately $3600 for three adaptive swings, chains, and extra harnesses. The swings were finally installed in July.
Now squels of joy and delight can be heard on the playground.
"They feel good about themselves. They're happy. They get to enjoy something that in the past they wouldn't have been able to do without a lot of hard work," said Krista Macomber, Newfane Learning Center Coordinator.
Thanks to stephanie and those who contributed, anyone in the community can now come here and use these special swings ... simple little things but so powerful.
Wilson said watching them swing and hearing them laugh brings her to tears.
"It makes them feel like they belong," she said.
If you have a Good Neighbors story idea you'd like to share, send an e-mail to Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com .