Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - 10:47:46 AM

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Rec Park to receive handicap updates

Mather Stover-Ling was born with spina bifida.  While he doesn't let his disability stop him, using standard playground equipment is near impossible.

"One step, a couple steps, it's impossible to get up we have to carry him," said Peter Ling, Mather's father.  "Playgrounds have the wood chips on the ground that the wheelchair just can't travel over easily."

Mather spends every weekend playing sled hockey, but the closest team is in Philadelphia.  While in Philly, Mather gets a chance to play on a playground that is handicap accessible.

"There was a big castle, and it had a big, big ramp, and they had slides so I could go all the way down, it was like five feet, I guess," Mather said.

But thanks to a partnership with the Binghamton University Students of Management Pricewaterhouse Cooper Scholars and the City of Binghamton, Mather won't have to drive hours away to play on a playground.  The project is called OurSpace.

"Looking here and seeing the potential, seeing what we can do and seeing how we can do it here in the biggest way while having a specific impact," said David Schwartz, President, BU SOM PwC Scholars Program.

In a two phase project Binghamton's Recreation Park will feature refurbished baseball fields including new dugouts by May 2014.  The bigger project for 2015, will feature handicapped accessible playground equipment and themed sections of the park, similar to the Story Garden at the Discovery Center.  The project will be primarily funded through fundraising and a $300,000 community grant.  Jacob Weiss, VP of Fundraising for BU SOM PwC says their goal is to raise $25,000 for Phase One and $30,000 for Phase Two.

It will give Rec Park a new look and lessen the burden on families like the Lings.

"When we travel out of town, we have a lot to pack for him and a lot of arrangements to make out of town, so with it being a couple minutes away it'll be very easy to pack up and come over here," said Peter Ling.

It'll also be a much shorter drive for Mather's friends to join him as well.

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