On Sunday, like most Sundays in spring, there was a lot of activity throughout the Warwick Valley. In the Village, we had the famous “Duck Derby,” an annual event to support the Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center. Winslow is a remarkable program which promotes equine activities and therapies for individuals with special needs. It also has programs for veterans through the Warrior Camp outreach and initiative.
The Winslow Therapeutic Program was created in memory of Flora Winslow. Flora was a neighbor of mine when I was growing up. She was a surrogate grandmother. We both shared a love of nature and of course, horses. Her own son, Michael, was born with cerebral palsy and it was his connection and love of horses that I imagine planted the seed for the program that was pioneering when it was introduced in 1974. For more information about Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center please visit https://www.winslow.org/.
This past Saturday night was an adult prom – a fundraiser for Warwick Playground Dreams. Warwick Playground Dreams is a grass roots initiative that is working towards a playground that is inclusive to all children, including kids with physical, sight and auditory disabilities. This is a remarkable, if not profound, effort to create a play space at Stanley-Deming Park that will allow so many more children to enjoy the experience of play in a setting with other children. If you are interested in helping out with this initiative, please visit their website at www.warwickplaygrounddreams.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/warwickplaygrounddreams.
The largest event of the weekend was the dedication and ribbon cutting of the Daniel Fratto Memorial Field at Wickham Woodlands. Hundreds of people came out to share the enthusiasm and culmination of the opening of the new handicap-accessible baseball field, a project that was the vision of the Beautiful People organization, whose mission is to build bridges between children with disabilities and their family and community by providing adaptive sports. The organization was founded by Warwick resident Peter J. Ladka in 2006 and has steadily grown and has enhanced the lives of thousands of young men and women and their families. A special shout out to the hundreds of corporate and individual sponsors, and especially Executive Director Jan Brunkhorst for her passion and hard work. A field of dreams has become a reality. Thank you to Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton and his Board for giving this dream a home. If you are interested in being a part or helping the significant endeavor, please visit http://www.beautiful-people.us/.
Three separate events but each one dedicated to the dream of allowing children and adults to be included and part of a community, whether to heal or to have fun. I believe Warwick has its priorities in line – it is our strength and our true beauty.
The above column, written by Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, has been published in the May 23 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch.