Ribbon cutting held for Exceptional Way’s new outdoor area

Published 9:00 am Thursday, May 11, 2023

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On Wednesday, the Leadership Troup Class of 2023’s project dedication officially opened with a ribbon cutting held by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.

The class’ service project was a renovation of the outdoor area for The Exceptional Way.

The organization’s outdoor area was unusable for participants as it had an extremely uneven green space, which can be unsafe for participants who are unsteady on their feet. The area also lacked sections of shade, which can be dangerous for those who are prone to heat-sensitive strokes and seizures.

The Exceptional Way is a nonprofit, day-program facility in Troup County that promotes social and relationship development and provides community involvement for individuals with disabilities.

Leslie Sims, a graduate of the class, said seeing the project come to fruition was emotional.

“Saturday, when we put this together, that’s when it really came to life — that’s when we really understood how meaningful it was that we completed it,” Sims said. “Today, seeing the Exceptional Way participants enjoy it and having them tell us how they appreciate this, how this is a great place for them, and how they couldn’t wait to use the outdoor space is all we wanted. We wanted a meaningful project, and I believe we were able to deliver that.”

The renovation included a concrete pad to level the area, install a sail shade, plant-raised therapy garden beds and new dining and sitting areas.

George Childress, chairman of The Exceptional Way, said receiving the renovation from the class was a blessing.

“To see the outpouring of support for our special group of people, for this organization and the lives that it’s touched means the world,” Childress said.

The Troup Leadership Class dedicated the outdoor space to fellow classmate Cindy Skipworth.

“It’s been an emotional time, because of what we’ve been through with Cindy, our executive director, who was diagnosed with cancer. Seeing what she’s had to battle, to go through, and what she’s meant to this organization. — I don’t think this project would have happened without her making the group aware of our need here,” Childress said. “Because of her charisma and her leadership, she made the group aware of a potential project for us that will now allow our participants to get outside. We would have done this at some point, but with Troup Leadership spearheading this project and making it a priority for them, we got it done sooner than later — we’ll be grateful for this for a long time.”