50 Red Swings was founded in 2018 by Lucienne Merkatz, then a high school junior at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lucie wanted to find a way to encourage inclusivity, beginning at a young age, by making playgrounds across the USA more accessible for special needs children.
The mission of 50 Red Swings is to provide and place adaptive swings into public play spaces in all 50 states. Lucie is looking to partner with other high school students interested in joining her to achieve the 50 Red Swings Vision.
Lucie grew up with an uncle who is severely autistic. She was exposed, beginning at a young age, to some of the difficulties encountered by people with disabilities. She became sensitive to his disability and became passionate about how she could help others with developmental or physical challenges feel more included and connected among their peers. In junior high, Lucie began volunteering on a weekly basis with Friendship Circle, a charity for children and young people with special needs. There, she led playgroups where she witnessed firsthand the benefits of play in improving children's self-esteem. In 9th grade, Lucie began also volunteering at The Manhattan Children’s Center (MCC). MCC provides a comprehensive educational approach for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), utilizing research-based interventions that are effective based on years of experience.
After Lucie’s sophomore year, she was fortunate to take a summer course in adaptive engineering at the Vanderbilt Summer Academy. As part of her curriculum, she adapted a drivable toy car for a child with special needs, and visited an ADA compliant, all-inclusive playground that was recently built outside of Nashville, TN, called Mary’s Magical Place. These experiences inspired Lucie to conceive of 50 Red Swings and she is now so excited for you to join her on this exciting mission!
Play is an important way for children to gain a sense of belonging and swings are an affordable and an easy addition to an existing playground
ALL CHILDREN DESERVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN THE PLAYGROUND
Place at least one adaptive swing within playgrounds in each of our 50 states