Mum’s charge for bucket swing

Heather’s four-year-old daughter Hollie at the park.

A Beachlands mother is leading the charge to provide a bucket swing for physically and mentally disabled children within the community.

Heather McGill has always wanted to take her four-year-old daughter Hollie to the swings at a local park.

“She has an aggressive form of uncontrolled epilepsy, mild cerebral palsy on her right side, severe delayed global development and autism,” Heather says.

Hollie’s conditions mean she cannot use the swing – she would slump and would not be able to get back up and can’t keep herself upright. Additionally Heather mentions she’s too big for them now.

The nearest appropriate swing is in Howick – a 20-minute drive for the simple act of taking her daughter to the park.

“People take these things for granted,” Heather says.

Hollie is the youngest of four children. She’s non-verbal but can partake in limited sign language – such as when she is hungry – and has a soft understanding of it. “She sees a speech therapist, OT and physio,” Heather says. “She has a special teacher at kindergarten.”

Hollie has frequent seizures that require significant care. In extreme cases, ambulances from St John’s is called, or if none are available, a helicopter. They can last from 30-40 minutes to 2-3 hours.

Her seizures are treated with CBD oil. “They’ve helped her significantly,” Heather says.

“She’s more active. She used to be lethargic and disinterested. Her seizures have decreased.”

Heather’s initiative, named Hollie’s Bucket Swing Project, for her daughter is fundraising for a specifically-designed bucket swing to be installed at one of the local playgrounds in the Pohutukawa Coast. It’s meant for physically and mentally disabled children with challenges who cannot use a traditional swing safely. The goal is $45,000.

“I was inspired when I saw Cyrus Dahl’s activism for a bucket swing in Wellington,” Heather says.

The expenses are for the specifically-designed swing and a pathway to lead to it that will allow access for wheelchairs. Heather has booked in a 15-minute slot to see the Franklin Local Board to discuss the authorisation and installation of the swing at the end of the month.

“As long as we prove we have the funds, the Council will install it,” Heather says. “It’s not just Hollie’s swing. It’s for everyone with disabilities.”

The community response, Heather says, has been amazing. She has received immense help and aid from Jacky Lakin and Catherine Godkin. “Jacky’s been my right hand man,” Heather says. “She’s been doing a lot for the cause.”

Additionally, there was a $5000 donation from Takutai Charitable Trust and $500 from G Donaldson Builders Limited. “I wanted to thank them for their support,” Heather says, “and everyone else that has donated.”

Heather’s future plans for fundraising include raffles and “Swing September”.

“We have a lot of ideas,” she says. “I can’t wait.”