Yes, I know it’s Tuesday and this is titled ‘Member Monday’, but I couldn’t wait ’til the coming Monday, which is a holiday besides, to tell you about one of our newest members, Never Say Never. Read on for the Q&A session we had with Never Say Never.
Q: Give us some background on how Never Say Never, Inc. came to be?
A: Never Say Never (NSN) was founded in 2015. I approached The Board of Park Commissioners in the Fall of 2015 with the need for inclusion in the community. We are one of two counties in the state with a special needs school and the only county in Wisconsin with The Wisconsin School For the Deaf, we have no readily available outdoor recreation for our special needs kids. I presented the idea of building an entirely inclusive playground for kids of all abilities to be able to play together; the vote was unanimous donating 13,000 sq ft of land and $15,000 towards development of a new inclusive playground at Veteran’s Park in Lake Geneva, WI.
Q: The phrase “Never Say Never” is powerful in the feeling it invokes. How’d you decide on that for the business name?
A: A group of like-minded family and friends gathered and started tossing around ideas, themes and names. It was easier coming up with a theme and then everything started to fall into place. A woodland theme with pirate ships and fairies was decided first, then the name was created. Most playgrounds are inaccessible to many children and therefore are telling them “no, you cannot play here”. The title for the Playland was born out of this. We as a community can never say never to a child’s desire to play and we need to encourage and emphasize that all children, regardless of their abilities, can play on our playground.
Q: What steps have already been accomplished in making this all a reality?
A: The first and most important step was becoming a registered 501(c)3 organization. Nick Egert of Nick Egert Law Offices in Lake Geneva and his team graciously donated their time to help ensure the paperwork was filed correctly. Sheree Carlson of Carlson & Associates in Lake Geneva also came on board as the Treasurer to oversee all financial aspects of the project.
Q: What’s been the most rewarding/amazing thing to have come from this endeavor so far?
A: Sharing the excitement about the project, meeting new people every day, fundraising and developing our design with our design firm, Leather’s & Associates, and most importantly educating others about inclusion.
Q: What are you finding to be the most difficult thing right now in the process?
A: Getting the word out across the community. We are always in need of volunteers who can donate their time to work on projects, special tasks and volunteer for committees.
Q: What has been Kameron’s role in things so far? What does she think of the idea?
A: Kameron loves the idea! Who wouldn’t love the idea of truly being able to play for the first time on a playground? Her favorite activity is to swing and since there are no accessible swings in nearby parks, she cannot participate in play. Stones, woodchips and sand make for a difficult experience even walking through your typical playground, so being around a playground is generally difficult and not a whole lot of fun. Last year, at the age of 16 was Kameron’s first time on a merry-go-round. Can you imagine what it is like to not be able to enjoy the simple things in life?
Q: What are you hoping to teach Kameron from all of this?
A: I’m hoping Kameron will be able to teach others the importance of inclusion and that we are all not built the same; that being different does not mean being secluded. We can all learn from each other and the only way to learn is from experience. She will be that social butterfly at the playground and next time you see her walking around town or at the store, say hi. Ask her about her favorite color, who her favorite Disney character is or what her favorite dessert is, as she will be happy to tell you or maybe even show you!
Q: What are you learning along the way in trying to make this happen?
A: Not everyone understands what inclusion is and how important the NSN project is. Why the cost of components are higher than your typical playground and most importantly what this means to kids like Kam. The Never Say Never Playland will be a place for all to come together to play, not just for our special needs community, but for parents to be able to get together to socialize, grandparents to enjoy playing with their grandkids, disabled adults to play with their typically-abled kiddos, and lastly where everyone can be a little more free from stress.
Q: What are you hoping to teach others through this process and once the playground is completed?
A: Why inclusion is important. Sometimes even though our kids cannot talk, they have something to say and have just as many needs as we do. Let’s all help them by giving everyone the gift of play, no matter what their disability, age, restrictions or non-restrictions are. Play is important to everyone!
Q: If someone wants to volunteer or donate to Never Say Never, what steps do they take to make that happen?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our email list.
Donations are accepted online via PayPal through our website or they can mail a check to: Never Say Never, Inc., P.O. Box 824 Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Q: What is your preferred method for being contacted if someone has questions or wants to learn more about Never Say Never?
A: By email: email@example.com or by phone/text: 262.206.6991.
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Separately from the information in this conversation with Never Say Never, I wanted to let everyone also know about the following good news: Never Say Never were recently delighted to learn that the Geneva National Foundation is partnering with them to sponsor the Never Say Never Golf Outing, to be held July 10, on two courses at beautiful Geneva National Resort. Kunes Country Auto Group has also graciously agreed to be the presenting sponsor of this premier golf event.
If you wish to be an exclusive sponsor for dinner, lunch, golf carts or beverage carts, please contact Never Say Never President, Dusti Ocampo, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 262.206.6991.
As for registering your golf foursome, do so before May 31 and receive a 25% discount of only $900 per foursome. The rate increases to $1,200 on June 1 and then registration closes June 30. You can find the registration link here: Never Say Never Golf Outing Registration
Just think ~ you can enjoy a round of golf on Geneva National’s award-winning Palmer or Trevino signature course, a gourmet lunch to-go, and dinner, cocktail hour and silent auction at the Clubhouse — and do it all in support of an all-inclusive playground for Lake Geneva children with and without disabilities.