It’s a playground Noah Hagmeier would have loved.
In a perfect world he would be enjoying the brightly colored playground equipment at London’s Cowling Park with his older brothers, Fin and Jack.
But now it is Noah’s spirit that touches the heart of every child who, like his brothers, will enjoy the fruits of a generous community.
“This all came about because of a little boy that God wanted as an angel,” said London Mayor Pat Closser, unable to hold back tears. “What makes London so great is we were able to come together for this.”
When Noah passed away needlessly a couple of years ago, his parents Jen and Dan wanted to keep the simple happiness of young children alive in the souls of the people of Madison County.
They – along with many people who have generously donated their time and money – have done that through the realization of Access Cowling. The all-inclusive outdoor children’s activity center – appropriately named Noah’s Playground – had an official ribbon-cutting Friday afternoon which included a ceremony to honor the donors to the half-million dollar project.
What started as a mother looking for an appropriate way to honor the memory a son became a project for all that captivated a community.
When Jen Hagmeier linked with City of London’s Amy Rees, the dynamic duo became the visionaries not only of a traditional playground, but one that could be enjoyed by children of all abilities. Featuring wheelchair accessible equipment and many sensory items, the ever-growing project quickly gained monetary support.
The inclusion aspect was an important one to Hagmeier, whose son Jack has some physical challenges.
“This is for kids who can’t stop running like this one, and kids who roll can play together,” Hagmeier said, first referring to her son Fin, and then to Jack.” I wish there wasn’t a reason to have a memorial for my son, but if there needs to be one, I’m glad it is something that can bring so much joy to so many people.”
As she pointed out some of those who contributed to the project, Rees used it as a chance to highlight the positive impact this can have on others.
“This project renewed my sense of community,” Rees said, pointing out individuals who helped on so many levels including Tony Shadwick of Penchura and State of Ohio Sen. Bob Hackett.
Hagmeier and Rees unveiled a large tree-shaped, glass-enclosed donation board – symbolically showing how many leaves were needed to fill out all of the branches necessary for success.
Susan Thompson, Superintendent of Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities, stressed the importance of both diversity and inclusion by giving value to every person, no matter what the differences may be.
“Diversity is being invited to the party (and) inclusion is being asked to dance,” Thompson said. “I predict there will be lots of dancing here at Cowling Park.”
As Mayor Closser cut the ribbon to christen the park, he summed up the day’s events:
“This was always a beautiful park, but it was underutilized,” Closser said. “Sometimes out of tragedy comes greatness and goodness.”