“I have been well rewarded for my efforts because of the smiles I have seen on the children who use this swing….when you see a child on a swing for the very first time, and to see their parents openly weep, because their child’s face just lights up instantly.”
Thanks to Wayne Devine, children with disabilities can now have as much fun on swings in a playground as their able bodied mates – no more sitting on the edge and wondering what it would be like to fly through the air and feel the breeze on their faces.
In 1988 Wayne was struck by the fact that conventional playground equipment did not cater for children with disabilities. His heart sank as he watched able-bodied children laughing and enjoying the playground swings in his local park, whilst a child in a wheelchair looked on with envy. It was at that time that Wayne had the original idea of developing a swing for children in wheelchairs – a dream that has taken him 13 years to realise.
Wayne set about constructing a prototype out of timber and meticulously tested various structures and configurations to ensure a smooth and safe swing action whilst taking into account the special needs of children in wheelchairs.
However, after nearing perfection of his original idea, he was faced with a huge dilemma – his original idea was focused on designing a playground swing for children in wheelchairs only. How would his design be able to be enjoyed by a child with some other type of disability who was unable to use a conventional swing, such as a child without the use of their arms for example?
At this time Wayne was faced with a crisis – whether to scrap the whole idea entirely or to persevere with his dream and endeavour to incorporate some modifications to ensure that all children with a disability were able to take advantage of his swing. Faced with this problem, Wayne’s determination was made even stronger.
After many, many hours and countless sketches and models, Wayne finally came up with a feasible way to incorporate a seat into the swing whilst still being able to accept a conventional wheelchair.
His truck loaded with his prototypes and sketches, Wayne headed down to Melbourne from Sydney to meet with the design team at Nylex Rotomold to establish a way of constructing the swing’s capsule out of heavy-duty plastic. A timber construction simply wouldn’t stand up to the rigours of an outdoor child’s playground. An internal steel structure had to be included to support the weight of up to 250 kg.
After finalising the signage and locking mechanisms and making yet another ramp, Wayne’s dream was realised in July 2000 when the first swing of this type was opened in Old’s Park, Forest Road, Penshurst NSW.
Thanks to Wayne Devine’s tireless efforts and persistence, the Liberty Swing can be enjoyed by children in wheelchairs and people with other disabilities that preclude them from using a conventional swing.