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David Schmalz here, thinking about swing sets for big people, and how the future of parks in Del Rey Oaks is suddenly looking a little bit brighter. 

Allow me to explain: Last week, while checking out the agenda packet for the Sept. 28 Del Rey Oaks City Council meeting, I skipped ahead to see if there was anything interesting about the city’s proposed update to its sign ordinance (there wasn’t). 

But in the process of scrolling, around page 180, I passed over some documents that grabbed my eye—I’m not sure why, other than some had handwriting—so I clicked in. The documents turned out to be applications to serve on the city’s Recreation and Parks Committee, and one handwritten application in particular stood out: 

Name: Matthew Patrick Hickey. 

Occupation: Student 6th Grade. 

Work Address: Foothill Elementary. 

Experience related to the appointment: I play on playgrounds often. 

Why do you wish to be appointed: To add big kid swings to the parks because I cannot fit in the baby swings.

As far as you know, what will be expected of you if you are appointed: To represent the kids, go to the meetings, and give ideas to improve parks and other areas in the town.

When I scrolled up a bit more to see the city’s call to apply for the four open positions, I learned that they required one resident each in three different neighborhoods in the city, as well as a youth representative under 21 years old. 

Matthew Hickey, it turns out, was the only applicant who qualified for the latter, and he’s now officially a member of the city’s newly convened Recreation and Parks Committee, serving a term of two years. 

“I had no idea Matthew was going to apply, and his application brought smiles to a lot of people,” Del Rey Oaks Mayor Alison Kerr says. “City Hall can’t stop talking about it.”

The potential existence of this committee was long ago established in the city code, but so far as Kerr has been able to learn, one was never formed. When that came to her attention, she set out to change it. And the committee is probably going to stick around for awhile, as Kerr says Matthew’s mother, Cindy, told her that Matthew’s younger brother now also wants to be on the committee when Matthew terms out. 

“We’re really excited,” Cindy says, recalling how she and Kerr talked years ago about making better playgrounds for their kids. Matthew is also psyched, if a bit anxious, and says his first priority is upgrading Del Rey Park, which is near his home.  

“I’ve noticed there’s only one set of swings there—baby swings—and I’m hoping we can have older kids’ swings, so older kids can enjoy them as well,” Matthew says. “To be honest, I’m kind of nervous, also very excited but mostly nervous, because I’ve never been on a committee before.”

I for one hope Matthew succeeds in his vision to make play in Del Rey Oaks parks more accessible to older kids, because it is every bit as important to them as it is to younger kids. I would also argue it’s important to adults too, and I hope Matthew advocates on my behalf in that respect. Who doesn’t love a good swing?

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