A student’s crusade to help handicapped individuals enjoy athletic events at Neligh-Oakdale has caught the attention of administration.
Simon Beacom, a Neligh-Oakdale eighth-grader, voiced both concern and soluntions for handicap accessibility during last month’s Board of Education meeting, bringing up handicap issues with the gymnasium bleachers, the sidewalk to the west of the football field as well as the restrooms at the football field.
“I think that if a small town comes together, we can fix the problem,” Beacom said.
Superintendent Scott Gregory appears to be on board with the district improving the accessibility for handicapped stakeholders.
In a letter to Beacom, Gregory thanked him for speaking at the board meeting and promised to look into each problem, especially restroom accessibility and the pavement of sidewalks near the football field.
“I believe those are achievable and can be done in an economical way,” Gregory said.
Beacom’s dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed by others either. Due to parking issues, Beacom regularly assists handicapped spectators who are dropped off at the back door of the gym.
He then leads the across the court to the bleachers. They then make a row in the entry way between the two sets of bleachers since there is no other place to sit.
Beacom’s dedication has allowed Neligh resident Dawn Baker to attend more events.
“I wouldn’t be going to games if it wasn’t for him,” she said. “Most eighth graders are interested in sports and other things. It means everything to me. He’s a very special kid.”
Among Beacom’s solutions are cutting out bleachers in the gym, adding a sidewalk from the basketball pavement to the sidewalk on the perimeter of the football field fence along with wider stalls, along with adding handrails and new toilets and urinals for the football bathrooms.
Gregory said he has a contract with BR Bleachers, who will visit the school later this month to see if cutout bleachers are a viable option for the gym. If they are, Gregory said he will give approval to BR Bleachers to install the cut kits.
Beacom said he is excited that the maintenance director is going to look into the remodel of the football/track and field restrooms and the concrete work.
“I feel very blessed that they took my project and did something with it, rather than just moving on,” he said.