For James and Libby Waechter, 12-year-old twins with cerebral palsy, their backyard has never been so accessible, let alone adventurous.
“Oh my gosh, it is super fun,” the twins’ mother, Katie Waechter, 33, of Wellington, Colo., told ABCNews.com. “It’s like going to one of those amusement parks and riding those rides. You get the butterflies in your stomach.”
On May 4, construction was complete on the Waechter’s very own, personalized backyard playground equipped with a large deck that includes a wheelchair ramp down to the yard, a 3,000-pound wheelchair swing the children can roll on to, as well as an elevated sandbox the twins can access with their wheelchairs.
The 15-week-long project was part of Colorado State University’s Construction Management program, CM Cares, which focuses on students applying construction skills through community service projects.
“Before the class started our facultywent out there and did an evaluation,” said CSU student and project member Kyle Snow. “They came up with the idea for the swing. It’s a first of its kind. It’s hard to imagine until you see how big it is.”
Each year, the program receives about a dozen applications from families in the community requesting assistance, then each spring, the department selects three projects for the students to schedule, budget and complete from start to finish.
“They made sure they had someone come in and install a push button so the kids can get the door open on their own,” Waechter explained. “Our deck is beautiful. The bridge from the deck, you go up this bridge to get on the swing, and they made it so that the kids can just go on there and sit and play without it having to be moving at all. It can be a fort, or a fun little play area. They can come down the bridge and they got this super cool raised sandbox too. It’s been awesome.”
Between monetary donations, material donations, labor, and fundraising, the James and Libby team, comprised of CSU students Kyle Snow, Zach Belsey, Cody Stoltenberg, Andrew Wood and Sara Podgorski, raised approximately $20,000 to complete the project.
“The biggest anticipation was when they brought the swing in with the crane,” said Waechter. “They put it on this platform waiting for the concrete to dry, and for the kids, it was like Christmas waiting to open their presents.”
Last night, Waechter and her husband discussed how nice this process has been for the family.
“Before when you’re swinging your kid in the swing, you’re the observer and the worker,” she said. “And now, it’s a full family event. We’re all on the swing together. They just built this wonderland for the kids. The modifications for the kids, I can’t even explain. The students easily gave 110%. It’s perfection and beautiful.”