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Hailey’s Wish holding benefit to resurface, add equipment to accessible playground in Manchester

Hailey's Wish, the nonprofit named after founder Brigitte Miller's daughter, helped build this all-inclusive playground at Carroll Springs school in Westminster. Now the group is fundraising for an all-inclusive playground at Christmas Tree Park in Manchester.
Hailey's Wish, the nonprofit named after founder Brigitte Miller's daughter, helped build this all-inclusive playground at Carroll Springs school in Westminster. Now the group is fundraising for an all-inclusive playground at Christmas Tree Park in Manchester. (Submitted photo,)

The playground in Manchester’s Christmas Tree park may be the most accessible for children with disabilities in Carroll County. It has specialized see-saws and swings with high backed seats and even a specialized zip line.

“It actually runs on a track parallel to a zip line where a child stand on a disk and hold on,” Brigitte Miller, founder of the nonprofit Hailey’s Wish, which helped raise money to build the playground. “Not only can a child sit in the bucket seat and slide across the zip line, but they have the opportunity to race one of their peers, which is something that never happened.”

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It is the only playground where Miller’s daughter, Hailey, who uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy and is the inspiration for the nonprofit, can actually play with most of the equipment, according to Miller.

Hailey Miller and her mother Brigitte take a swing. The nonprofit she inspired, Hailey's Wish, is holding a bingo fundraiser on Friday, Aug. 23 to raise funds to resurface and add a piece of equipment to the accessible playground at Christmas Tree Park in Hampstead.
Hailey Miller and her mother Brigitte take a swing. The nonprofit she inspired, Hailey's Wish, is holding a bingo fundraiser on Friday, Aug. 23 to raise funds to resurface and add a piece of equipment to the accessible playground at Christmas Tree Park in Hampstead. (Hailey's Wish)

However, though the playground was built in 2015, there are further improvements Miller would like to bring to the area, particularly a rubberized surface for the play area.

“Right now the mulch, although it is ADA compliant, it is very tiresome to push a wheelchair in it,” she said.

On Friday, Hailey’s Wish will be holding a special bingo fundraiser at the Manchester Volunteer Fire Department activities building, a bingo night featuring designer bags by Michael Kors, Kate Spade and others as prizes. Doors open at 5 p.m., games start at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, available by calling 443-277-8058 or emailing mvfdbagbingo@yahoo.com.

Proceeds will go toward the resurfacing of the playground, Miller said, as well as a new piece of accessible equipment, a hillside slide.

“You enter the slide at ground level and the slide follows the slope of a hill down to the bottom,” she said. “You’re still getting the experience of sliding down, but you don’t have to climb up to get to the slide itself.”

The Town of Manchester is supporting the effort, as it did the initial construction of the playground, with a contribution of $10,000, according to Manchester Director of Finance Kelly Baldwin.

“Our budget goal for the rubber surfacing and hillside slide improvements is $33,000,” Miller wrote in an email. “We currently have approximately $23,000 with funding from Hailey’s Wish and the Town of Manchester. So, we need to raise about $10,000 more.”

With Hailey using a wheelchair, Miller said, it quickly became apparent when she was just a few years old, that trips to playgrounds with her other two children wouldn’t be fair for Hailey. With the exception of perhaps one high-backed swing here and there, there was little Hailey could play on.

“The problem is this specialized equipment is extremely expensive,” Miller said. “As frustrating as it is as a parent to see that there isn’t playground equipment that accommodates children like Hailey, I understand the limitations of the local budgets.That’s why we decided to step in and help out.”

Miller founded Hailey’s Wish in 2006 and by 2009, was able to help fund the construction of an accessible playground at Carroll Springs School, in Westminster.

That project garnered the attention of the Town of Manchester, according to Kelly Baldwin, the town’s director of finance. The town was able to get some grant money and was interested in an accessible playground.

“We contacted Brigitte and said, ‘we’re coming to you for advice on what we can include, what you would like to see, the different elements of a playground,’” Baldwin said. “She is a great asset in the sense of what can be done and what she would like to see done.”

The town is now happy to support the proposed improvements to the park, Baldwin said, knowing that that they will be well used and appreciated by the community.

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“During the summer we really are paying attention and the park gets used pretty heavily by daycares and so forth,” she said. “It’s great to see it.”

For more information on Hailey’s Wish or to make a donation, visit www.haileyswishplaygrounds.com.

If you go

What: Designer Bag Bingo benefiting Hailey’s Wish and the Christmas Tree Park playground

When: 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23

Where: The Manchester Volunteer Fire Department activities building, 3297 York St., Manchester

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

To purchase tickets, call 443-277-8058 or send email to mvfdbagbingo@yahoo.com. For more information on Hailey’s Wish, visit www.haileyswishplaygrounds.com.

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