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Rave reviews for Molly’s dream slide

To help keep busy over the summer break, 10-year-old Molly O’Dwyer sent a letter to Carterton District Council, asking if it would be possible to replace the slide at the town’s beloved free pools.

Fast-forward two years, and Molly’s dream has made a splash into reality: Carterton’s brand new rainbow water slide is now open for business, and is set to be “the most used piece of council equipment” in the district.

Late last month, the Carterton outdoor pool complex hosted an informal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new slide, followed by a barbecue and pool party, in which the slide was well patronised by kids and kids at heart – including former mayor Greg Lang – and met with rave reviews.

The slide, sourced from Whanganui, was made possible with funding from Carterton District Council [CDC] and a community fundraising campaign spearheaded by Molly, now a Year 7 pupil at Chanel College.

The keen swimmer wrote to the council, suggesting an upgrade to the previous slide, which had several safety issues and was no longer fit for purpose.

Encouraged by Lang, Molly made a submission to CDC’s Ten-Year Plan – which resulted in a $10,000 pledge from the council – and set up a Givealittle page to source the remaining funds.

She reached her goal earlier this year thanks to donations from Trust House, Ka Pai Carterton, Keep Carterton Beautiful, a sponsored 10km swim, Wairarapa businesses, and the wider community.

Funds raised also contributed to a new poolside mural, painted by Carterton artist Adrian Jackman, youth organisation Rangatahi Tū Rangatira, and local school students.

At the ribbon cutting, deputy mayor Dale Williams praised Molly for having the courage to put her idea before the council – which started the “avalanche” needed to bring the project to fruition.

“Sometimes, all it takes to kick something off is for one person to have a vision they can articulate – and Molly has epitomised that,” he said.

“She has brought the whole community along with her on the journey. Every generation has loved this pool, and so many people have contributed to this project. People of my generation have given money towards it – even if they might not be going down the slide themselves.

“And now we have a wonderful new community asset – which is probably going to be the most used piece of council equipment we’ve ever seen.”

Naturally, Molly was the first to test out the slide – and though she was delighted with the new addition, she admitted it was surreal to see her idea fully realised.

“For a long time, the slide just felt like a figment of my imagination – so I couldn’t believe I was seeing it in front of me,” she said.

“It feels amazing – it’s like, ‘wow, I’ve actually done something big’.

“Lots of people told me they really enjoyed the slide – they liked that it’s got lots of space to hang out at the top and that there’s a bit of a drop at the end before you hit the water.

“I think I went down it at least 10 times!”

Mum Amanda O’Dwyer she said was proud of her eldest daughter for seeing her project through to the end and was thankful for “all the amazing support” from the community.

“It’s awesome – the slide is bright, funky, and summery, and the murals look beautiful. The whole pool is looking really smart.”

Similarly thrilled with the final result was former deputy mayor Rebecca Vergunst, who mentored Molly throughout the submission process and fundraising campaign.

“We want our young people to feel pride in their spaces. Hopefully through this Molly will inspire other young people and show them how to create change in their communities,” she said.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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