A new accessible swing was officially unveiled at Nose Creek Regional Park on Aug. 11, bringing to fruition an idea that had been hatched last year by Airdrie’s Mayor for a Day winner.
The swing was designed by 12-year-old Sayde, who won the City of Airdrie’s annual Mayor for a Day competition in 2021.
“I think it’s really cool because I didn’t actually think I’d win,” said Sayde, who added she started screaming with excitement upon hearing she was the winner.
The new accessible swing offers full body support for children who cannot support their own weight. For instance, children who use wheelchairs can enjoy a day at the park swinging with friends and family on the recently installed inclusive swing.
“I have a lot of friends that have special needs that couldn’t play on the playground at my school,” Sayde said, regarding where the inspiration for her idea came from. “ I thought [the swing] would be a cool idea so other people can play.”
Currently, this is the only accessible swing in Airdrie. Blair Lenton, a crew leader for the City of Airdrie’s parks department, said at the Aug. 11 unveiling that he is pushing for the municipality to install more inclusive swings, and is hoping to create a fully accessible playground in the future.
“We’re such a diverse community and welcoming community, [but] we don’t always think about people who have special needs, especially physical,” said Mayor Peter Brown in an interview after the event.
“I can’t imagine if you are in a wheelchair, but coming in here and being able to enjoy the park with your brothers and your sisters and have fun – that’s what it is all about, that’s what spoke to me,” he added.
Sayde is hoping the new swing brings more awareness to the community about people with limited mobility.
“A lot of people ignore people with mobility issues…so I think it’s important to include everyone,” Sayde added.
Brown said he is proud of Sayde, who went above and beyond to win the Mayor for a Day competition in 2021.
Beginning in 2012, the yearly competition aims to provide Airdrie’s Grade 6 students with an opportunity to craft an innovative idea that would improve the community. Students who win the contest get to learn how municipal government functions while spending a day shadowing the mayor.
Grade 6 students across Airdrie submit their ideas to their school each spring, and the applications are then sent to the City’s board of youth affairs. The board scores the applications based on originality, detail, ease of implementation, diversity, practicality, and inclusion, before compiling a short list.
The three highest scoring applicants are then asked to present their ideas to the board City council in person, who then vote on the winner.
“There were a lot of other applications,” Brown said. “[Sayde] pushed herself right to the top.”