SALEM – Now even residents in wheelchairs can safely experience the relaxing back and forth motion of a swing at Waterworth Memorial Park.
All thanks to future Eagle Scout Sam Murray, who saw an unmet need and filled it.
“I wanted to give people in wheelchairs something to do in the parks” said the high school student from Salem.
Located near the basketball courts and playing field, next to the parking lot entrance curb near the duck pond, the wheelchair swing can accommodate a wheelchair and has two additional seats for members of the family.
Users are directed to the text of the word “SWING” at 805-219-6912 for instructions.
The wheelchair is pushed straight onto the ramp with its back facing the curb, then a safety strap is hooked to the wheelchair frame. A red button is then pushed in to tighten any play or there is a black button that can be used to automatically tighten the strap. The metal part of the harness should be lifted, then remove the black plug, located above the instruction number, and push the large lever forward. This brings the rear panel back behind the wheelchair and releases the brake, allowing the rider and family or friends to swing as they please.
When finished, simply pull on the black socket to bring the lever back to lower the rear panel and activate the brake. Press the red button to remove the harness, return the hook to its place and roll up, leaving the back panel down for the next person.
Murray, 17, of St. Paul Boy Scout Troop 6, gave others full credit for the completed project.
He thanked his fellow scouts and leaders of Troop 6, his family, the parks department and all who helped him, but he especially thanked the community, saying the completed swing is the result of community members. who came together with donations and support to help him complete his Eagle Scout Project.
He was grateful to Doug Falk, who Murray knows through the Key Club, Falk created a Go Fund Me page so that over $ 1,600 in proceeds could be donated, finally putting the project above the target for cover all costs, then some – over $ 10,000. Two children, aged 10 and 12, even donated their chore money to the project.
“My Salem Babcia (Polish for grandmother) brought us lunch and came to support us during the construction phase”, Murray said, referring to his grandmother Carol.
Murray not only received donations large and small from all over during the fundraising phase, which lasted almost a year, but he learned some of the stories behind the donations.
One donor shared how their daughter was confined to a wheelchair and still anxiously awaited the swing at Robert Bycroft School in Lisbon. The donor really liked the idea of this project in Salem.
Another donor said a family member was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest person confined to a wheelchair. Another note came from a donor who had a son confined to a wheelchair who allegedly loved the swing.
For Murray, that was the whole idea.
He wanted his project to have meaning, to serve a purpose that was not currently being achieved.
While researching the possibilities, he said other communities have playgrounds for children with disabilities or activities for people in wheelchairs. He didn’t find anything like it in Salem, a city with a lot of old people.
“I wanted to give them something that they can enjoy and experience and have fun in the outdoors too”, he said.
He has found inspiration all around him, from students at school to people at work (physiotherapy) of his mother who are in wheelchairs.
Sam’s parents, Eric and Holly, couldn’t be prouder of their son and all of his accomplishments.
“I love the project he chose to do. Sam is all about serving others. It fits his character because that’s what he likes to do ”, said Holly.
“It’s great for a community like ours with a lot of older residents. It is important to make the parks accessible ”, Eric said.
The swing came in a kit from Ironwood Products, made in the USA, with a California redwood frame. The Parks Department donated bricks to Murray to use for the walkway, which leads from the sidewalk to the concrete slab. He also installed landscaping and there is money left for future maintenance. He thanked all individuals and companies for donating money and materials to the project and for their continued support of the Boy Scouts. The swing will be monitored 24/7 via cameras in the park.
Murray said his late Boy Scout Leader Terry McElroy had kept him in the Boy Scouts and served as a good role model. He also thanked Scout Leader Eric Swiger and all the adult leaders of Troop 6.
When not scouting, Murray plays the trumpet in a marching band, plays football, was a state-rated wrestler last year in the 220-pound category, serves as a senior class representative on the student council , is a member of the National Honor Society and the Key Club, a volunteer at the Salem Banquet and serving as a choir at St. Paul’s Church.
He represented Columbiana County as a delegate to the 2021 American Legion Buckeye Boys State which was held this summer at the University of Miami in Ohio. Ironically, he served as his city’s director of parks at Boys State, creating three parks as part of the experiment. He also spent time at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico with other members of Troop 6 and his father as well.
Future plans include seeking a bachelor’s degree in welding engineering technology from Ferris State University in Michigan, which lasts two years in the classroom and two years of labs and hands-on training. He wants to work in welding for five years or more, get certified as a welding inspector and eventually start a business. He also thinks of the army.