Mother helps kids "play with no boundaries"

12:24 AM, Feb 20, 2012   |    comments
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Amy Martin's special-needs son Joseph was undergoing therapy at a center in Knoxville, when Martin says she witnessed something that inspired her.

"I got to witness a child swing for the very first time," Martin said.

The wheelchair bound child was in a full-body support swing on a handicap accessible playground.

"Just the smile on his face, it was a wonderful wonderful experience," Martin said.

For Martin's own child, three-year-old Joseph, a day at the park requires a lot of hand holding.

The uneven surfaces are hard for him to navigate. Joseph is also unable to speak and uses limited sign language to communicate.

Martin says she frequently brings her three other children to play at Oneida City Park, but finds it a challenging experience for her youngest.

She founded Play With No Boundaries, an organization dedicated to bringing a handicap accessible playground to Scott County.

She's already raised about $70,000 towards their $173,000 goal to convert the volleyball court at Oneida City Park into the 5,100 square foot play area.

She says they've sold over 900 tee-shirts. They've also hosted fundraisers-- one road block fundraiser garnered $6,000 in a day.

She says the vast majority of the money they've raised has come from private citizens and small businesses in Scott County, no small feat for an area plagued by double-digit unemployment.

"Even though we're a small town, and we have high unemployment, one of the best things you can do for any child is give them the gift of play. And it's free," says Martin.

She says the playground will feature a rubber ground which will be smooth enough for wheelchairs to pass on, and soft enough to buffer falls.

All the play equipment will have double wide ramps and three sets of swings giving varying degrees of support.

They even plan to build a wheelchair accessible swing.

She says when Joseph grows up, she hopes the sight of the playground he helped inspire will make him proud.

"Every time he comes by here he's going to think, that started with me."

For more information on the organization click here.

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