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MiHi still providing accessible equipment

September 21, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

A seed was planted years ago when a young man took a group of handicapped children to the Hagerstown City Park to watch others play...but only to watch.

"We as a society had let these children down,'' said Mary Pearson, one of the originators of MiHi.

Seems impossible but this year, MiHi is 10 years old. From humble beginnings, the organization has made amazing strides toward providing playground and picnic equipment that is accessible to all - children, the elderly and everyone in between.

Today, the group is dedicating still another piece of accessible equipment at the Washington County Ag Center during its annual MiHi Day In The Park which kicks off a week of anniversary activities.

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Beginning at 10 a.m., the day will include live entertainment by Bonedaddy, games, food, a car show, craft fair, face painting, karaoke, and the noon dedication of the MiHi equipment.

MiHi continues its expansion with picnic table dedications at Hancock town park, Sept. 22, at 10 a.m., Smithsburg Lions Club Park, Sept. 24, at 10 a.m., and at Williamsport's Byron Park, Sept. 25, at 10 a.m.

Now with a new board in place, the sky is the limit, according to Andrew Humphreys, chairman of the board.

"First we have changed the MiHi logo to Many Individuals, Helping Individuals,'' Humphreys said. Previously, it stood for Mentally Impaired, Handicapped Individuals.

Actually, it goes even further back than that, according to Pearson, who was a volunteer at the Potomac Center then.

"One of our original founders, Lynn Boswell, came up with the word MiHi which he said means happiness in Hawaiian,'' Pearson said.

Active in three states, MiHi has already placed specialized equipment at:

* The Washington County Regional Park on Mt. Aetna Road

* Martin L. Snook Park in Halfway

* Pen Mar Park

* War Memorial Park, Martinsburg, W.Va.

* Renfrew Park in Waynesboro, Pa.

* Hagerstown City Park

* Pangborn Park

* Baker Park, Frederick

* Constitution Park, Cumberland

* Devil's Backbone, Boonsboro

* Funkstown and Hancock parks

The goal of the organization is to be visible in every park and recreational facility possible, Humphreys said.

"We plan to go regional, national and international,'' he said. "A web page is also in the works so we can grow.''

The main thrust of the work is accessible picnic tables which allow people using wheelchairs to get close enough to enjoy an outdoor meal with friends.

The tables and other equipment are donated to the parks in question for use by all, Pearson said.

For more information on MiHi, call 301-745-MIHI or visit the office at 138 E. Antietam St., basement level.

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