Friday, February 11, 2011

Little Hearts Big Smiles

So, Little Hearts Big Smiles is near and dear to my heart. I co-founded this organization in 2006 with Holly Batton. We were two moms with young daughter's that had feeding tubes that were sick little girls. We knew that we could reach out to other moms to support us and for us to show support to. We had 4 meetings before anyone came. We almost didn't have our 5th meeting because we thought maybe this wasn't a need in our community. Two new moms came to our 5th meeting and from there we've grown into a non profit organization with a mission for inclusion and awareness. We partnered with the Clinton County Foundation and created a board of directors in 2008. We also decided at that time that there is a need in our community for an all inclusive playground. So, in addition to our IEP trainings, monthly activities for the kids, outreach to the community and support group meetings we embarked on a campaign to raise half a million dollars for a playground. We have created a governing board to oversee the day to day operations of our finance, fundraising, grant writing, planning and publicity committees. We became incorporated in 2011 and are on our way to being a stand alone 501 c3 organization. We have big plans for LHBS, we would like to have charter offices in other communities so that we can reach an ever growing population of families raising children with special needs.

Each year we provide an opportunity for the kids to go horseback riding. In Fall 2010, a friend from church, Dawn Martin and her company Martin Quarter Horses invited us out to ride. It was a wonderful afternoon for the kids! Thanks Dawn!

Another annual event is going to visit a pumpkin patch. In 2010 Bonnybrook Farms in Clarksville, Ohio invited us out for a fun filled day! Each of the kids got free tickets to do everything at the farm including visiting the horse barn, feeding catfish, picking pumpkins and an awesome hayride in the 300 acre woods! This is part of our group. We had 40 people attending that day!

This wheelchair swing is one of the most exciting features of our playground. This swing will be housed on one of the swing bays below. Thanks to Martinsville Lion's Club for donating this swing!

Phase I - I am excited to mention that we have raised enough money for this phase of the playground and we are on track to have the equipment in the ground by late April, Early May!

If we raise an additional $15,000 for the ground surfacing..swings like these will go in with Phase I! The only difference will be the wheelchair swing and some seated belted swings along with the swings in the photo!

Phase 2 draft. A toddler Weevos section! Our original scope did not include a toddler area so this is an exciting addition to the playground. I had the opportunity to sit in on a planning meeting this week with planning chairperson Jessie Woodruff to help choose the pieces for phases 3 and 4. Since I'm usually busy with fundraising events and publicity I don't make it to the planning meetings. It was very very exciting to get to plan the next phases of the playground!
So, if you would like to know how to help with the playground go to

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