Yorktown Employees Swing Into Action to Help Disabled Child

Mirsada Rezk and her 5-year-old son, Aydin, play on the new swing at York Hill Park. Credits: Brian Marschhauser
Parks Superintendent Todd Orlowski and Assistant Superintendent Kyle Thornton Credits: Brian Marschhauser

YORKTOWN, N.Y.-When Mirsada Rezk called the Yorktown Parks and Recreation Department over the summer about the lack of handicap-accessible swings at her neighborhood park, she was ready for a fight. Parks employees, however, never gave her the chance.

Rezk’s 5-year-old son, Aydin, lives with Angelman syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that mainly affects the nervous system. A resident of Hawthorne Drive for several years, the Rezk family often visited nearby York Hill Park.

The park, however, did not have a swing suitable for Aydin’s needs. At nearly 60 pounds, he was getting too big for the toddler swing, his mother said. Swings that require Aydin to use his arms were also not an option.

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“I sat down, called the Parks and Recreation Department, and Kyle [Thornton, assistant superintendent], who I spoke to, was phenomenal,” Rezk said. “He was super nice, super sweet, super understanding. He said, ‘We’ll do it.’ I said, ‘What?’ I was ready to put up a fight.”

Within weeks, the department had ordered a swing suitable for 2- to 12-years-olds that straps in the child and does not require upper-body strength to operate.

The park, on the corner of Loring Place and Hawthorne Drive, is accessible to all Yorktown residents.

Rezk, who said most things involving her son are an ordeal that require weeks and months of paperwork, was elated to get such a response.

“How awesome is this?” she said, as she pushed her son on the swing.

Todd Orlowski, superintendent of parks, said there are many neighborhood “pocket parks,” like York Hill, that are on his radar to improve in 2018.

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