Leonard’s Express Delivers Materials for Inclusive Playground Designed for People of All Abilities
At Leonard’s Express, philanthropic activities are central to our culture and help define us as a company and as a great place to work. Our employees don’t just participate in community giving, they demand it.
The main focus of our philanthropic giving is movement – a fitting theme since movement of goods is central to our mission as a transportation services provider. Funding community initiatives that focus on movement is a responsibility we take very seriously. One of our key areas of focus is providing support to children’s programs that encourage movement and fitness.
Over the summer of 2021, we found a perfect opportunity to support one of our communities and demonstrate our values when a local non-profit approached Leonard’s with a request for help. Inclusion in Motion was building an inclusive playground as part of its Dream Big Campaign and needed a carrier to haul materials from Delano, Minnesota to the construction site in Canandaigua, New York. More than 700 volunteers from across the Finger Lakes region came together to lend a hand during a “community build” event in August of 2021.
Universal design enables and empowers a diverse population to participate in play, regardless of their ability. Leonard’s Express is proud to have participated in transforming Inclusion in Motion’s “big dream” into a reality.
“Together in one safe, comfortable, and accessible area, this area of health and wellness will encapsulate a space appropriate for infants, toddlers, children, and adults with a mindfulness path to be installed around the perimeter,” said Nanci Bentley, who alongside her husband Mike, headed an 11-member committee to raise money to build the Inclusion in Motion playground. “The playground in its entirety is set up to facilitate play between multiple generations and abilities. A large open-air pavilion will be installed this fall to provide an accessible picnic seating area and four large family bathrooms.”
Leonard’s Express delivered five truckloads of raw materials and playground equipment more than 1,000 miles, from Minnesota to New York, free of charge. In addition, when another trucking company was unable to keep its commitment to haul the surfacing from Pennsylvania, Leonard’s Express stepped in and got the materials to the construction site on time. “A different carrier had offered to haul the surfacing but a week before our scheduled delivery, they backed out,” recalled Mike Bentley. “So, I called Kyle Johnson from Leonard’s Express and asked for help. He said, ‘absolutely!’ We were in a real jam and Leonard’s came through for us without hesitation.”
The total value of the Leonard’s Express donation was approximately $31,000. “We delivered swing sets, slides, merry go rounds, ‘buddy benches’ – pretty much everything on the playground except the concrete and mulch,” said Kyle Johnson, Chief Financial Officer of Leonard’s Express. The materials were delivered on a weekly schedule as part of a well-coordinated effort, culminating with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on June 18, 2022.
“We are thrilled to officially open the playground portion this morning,” said physical therapist Sonya Smith at the grand opening. “But please know that our big dreams for this space do not stop here. Our dream is to be the first universally designed and certified playground in the United States. Simply put, that means one design for everyone.”
Over the summer, four-to-six bus loads visited the playground each week, including Cub Scout troops, school districts, church groups, nonprofit organizations, and families and friends joining to create lasting memories of generations playing together.
“We have quickly become a popular destination for schools, adult agencies and even other municipalities to visit,” concluded Nanci Bentley. “Without the community’s support and the backing of donors like Leonard’s Express, this playground would not be what it is today. We couldn’t have done it by ourselves.”
To see the Dream Big Inclusion Playground, in Canandaigua, New York, please watch this video from the Grand Opening!