SADDLE BROOK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Boy Scout working on his project to become an Eagle Scout turned to his sister for inspiration.
Michael Maniscalco and his father help coach a special needs sports team — the Saddle Brook Angels. After practices they would often go to the old playground near the fields, but not everyone could join in.
“The reason behind project is because of my sister, Samatha. She was born with special needs,” Michael told CBS2’s Meg Baker on Monday.
Michael said he knew he would be able to help his sister and the others with his Eagle Scout project, so he devised a plan to rebuild nearby Avon Park. The 17-year-old held car wash fundraisers and reached out to local businesses to help fund the project and provide materials and labor.
It took 11 weeks and 1,800 hours of volunteer labor, but he got the job done.
“He wanted to take on this small task at first that became rather large and as a parent you have to back him up,” said James Maniscalco, Michael’s father.
“The playground is actually ADA-accessible, so it’s big enough for wheelchair to get up or a motorized wheelchair to go up the ramp,” Michael added.
It’s complete with sensory boards, tic-tac-toe, a math board, slide and more.
Kids and parents that Baker spoke to said the playground has brought the community together.
“The playground used to be a disgusting mess where kids would come and do bad things, teenagers. Now, it is set up so that the little kids can come and have fun,” said parent and teacher Michelle Nosch.
“That’s amazing. Kids with special needs can play like everyone else,” Saddle Brook resident Jonah Gold added.
“Really good park. I think it’s better than the last one,” 8-year-old Christopher Cantarella said. “Because the last one was really dirty.”
Through his meaningful project, Michael Maniscalco said he’s made lifelong friends, and he plans to stay involved in the community. His goal is to become a K-9 police officer after college.
The Saddle Brook Angels Sports Club is open to anyone in the area to join as a player. Volunteers are greatly needed.