Tim Ciesco

Seven-Year-Old's Letter Prompts Mansfield to Swing Into Action

There are few places 7-year-old Maggie Fortner likes more than Donald R. Barg Park, a city park just down the street from her home in Mansfield.

"We can just walk there," said Maggie. "[We come here] almost every day."

The park opened in 2011 with playgrounds, benches, trails, and a gazebo -- just about everything a person could want at a park.

But Maggie felt there was one glaring flaw. It had no swings.

"All the other parks have them," said Maggie. "And this is the only park really close to us."

She decided it was up to her to fix that problem.

"I was going around the neighborhood collecting money for swings," said Maggie. "But then I decided to write a letter."

A simple letter she wrote and then sent to City Hall at the suggestion of her grandma. It read:

"Dear Sirs,

Please add swings to our park. The park is located on Whispering Water Lane. The name is Donald R. Barg.

Thank you,

Maggie Fortner"

It arrived on the desk of Mansfield Parks & Recreation Director Matt Young, who was stunned that a then-kindergartner took the time to send him a note.

“It warmed my heart," said Young. "To receive a request like that from a kindergartner for something that is as simple as swings, which should be expected at all playgrounds, it just made me smile immediately.”

It also got him to look at his department's budget. And sure enough, in 2017 he found the dollars to make Maggie's wish a reality.

"A lot of adults don't take that kind of initiative," said Young. "In this case, you just want to help. You want to make that happen."

He wrote back to the Fortners to give them the good news.

Maggie's mom Beth Fortner couldn't believe what she was reading.

"I had no idea that she had written a letter," said Fortner. "It was really amazing. I was really impressed with her. I don't know that I would have taken the time to do [what she did]."

Maggie sure is glad she did. The city just recently finished installing the swings -- which the Fortners now lovingly refer to as "Maggie's Swings".

"I'm really, really, really excited," said Maggie.

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