A Note from Joanne Derwin:
One World Project's mission is to nurture global citizens and stewards of the environment. From the beginning we have wanted to not only provide top notch educational programming but also be a community center to provide opportunities for people from different places and cultures to come together to explore, discover, listen and make friends.
Wheelchair accessibility has been a top priority since we found our new space. A key to being a true community center. A welcoming to all.
The importance of wheelchair access at One World Project was also personally motivated. My mom, before she passed away, used a wheelchair. Because of her experience I became acutely aware of how hard it is to get around in a wheelchair and that so many places are not wheelchair accessible.
Will Hayes, a dad in the OWP school community is an architect and also uses a wheelchair. With our move his ability to pick up his son form school was made impossible.
One day another OWP dad named Paul Caruso saw Will waiting for his son and approached me to see how he could help. It was one of those beautiful moments when someone just walks up and says "It's not right that a Dad has to wait outside to pick up his son. How can I help?"
Paul and his wife Melisa organized a “Ramp Raising” party and invited their friends, family, and entire apartment complex! It was an amazing event. Some people gave large donations and others just a few dollars. Their efforts combined with the support of the broader school community led by Carol Wei and Marivi Manaluz, raised $25,000 we needed to bring the ramp to fruition.
Will drew up the initial plans for the ramp while also providing necessary research on a ramp versus a handicap lift. Will knew that not only would a ramp be a more practical project to build, but he recognized even in the very beginning that the ramp would be a lot of FUN for the children of OWP.
NYC Council Member Brad Lander got involved because when we started the fundraising effort I approached him for public dollars. Though no funds were available, Brad continued to be supportive and helped expedite permits and did everything in his power to help OWP. He's an incredible public servant.
OWP also received help for the ramp from Andrew Haner, an architect from Suntect and a neighbor of OWP students Cassidy and Annaliese, who donated his services to file the ramp with the Department of Buildings.
I could not be prouder that this beautiful ramp is now built and being enjoyed by all in our school community. Please come by and take a look.