If there is one cause all of us endorse wholeheartedly, it’s that every kid gets a turn at the swings. Apparently, 9-year-old Jayci Stubblefield thinks so too, and is working hard to turn this vision into reality.
When Stubblefield, a fourth-grader in Texas, saw that her wheelchair-bound best friend Rylea Lambert could not play on the swings, she was sad. Her friend was born with cerebral palsy, and although she managed to roll through her school's hallways with ease in her motorized wheelchair, she wasn’t able to pass the gravel walkway leading to the play area.
Even if she somehow managed to make it to the playground where all her friends played during the playtime, her wheelchair would certainly not fit into a swing.
“Rylea couldn't go on the playground and she started to cry for me one day,” Stubblefield recalled. “She didn't have anybody to play with.”
However, instead of sitting around and lamenting about the unfairness of it all, the young girl decided to take matters in her own hands and do something to solve the problem for her friend and other kids with similar disabilities.
"I kept saying in my mind, 'Why doesn't every kid get to play?'" she explained. "And I was like, 'Every kid deserves the chance to play.' No kid is different except for the way they learn. That's all that's different.”
Teaming up with principal Jason Beatty, she found out that school authorities could use bond money approved by the voters to pave the walkway. But one problem persisted: Lambert needed a special swing to join her friends during playtime.
The school had to raise the $10,000 required for this swing through private donations. Beatty took Stubblefield to Aledo ISD Education Foundation in Weatherford, Texas, where she simply and eloquently pleaded her wheelchair-bound best friend's case.
Her plea was so heartrending that the attendees could not contain themselves. In fact, many of them broke down in tears.
“You saw all they wanted was the chance to play with their other friends,” foundation president Tricia Carter-Haber said. “I tell you, my big burly dads cried. All the way down to my moms and teachers.”
Moved by her words, the foundation decided all four elementary schools in their district needed the special swings. However, due to limited funding, the school and foundation must raise the money through private donations – and they are already a quarter of the way there.
Meanwhile, Stubblefield has also set up a GoFundMe page for the swings to sell bracelets bearing the words, “Every kid deserves to play."
Hopefully the little girl’s efforts will soon bring smile to her friend’s and countless other children’s faces when they experience the joyous highs of the swings with their friends.