ADA Accessible Music Garden
- ABCreative, Julie Scott
- Kansas, USA
- Project Year
Park Hill Elementary, part of Derby Public Schools, recently received ADA compliant playground equipment, thanks to the passing of a bond that will eventually ensure inclusive play is achievable in all nine elementary schools within the district. Park Hill is unique in that is the only music themed playground in the community.
Prior to the bond, only one school within the district had an accessible playground. Having seen that inclusive play is a vital component within a school’s development, Derby Public Schools Board of Education approved the funding and each of the nine elementary schools will have inclusive playground equipment installed through the bond for students to enjoy.
Park Hill Elementary Principal Sandy Rusher was sold on the concept of developing a musical-themed ADA accessible play space as soon as she spotted a picture of the colourful rainbow sambas from Percussion Play. Therefore, once the funding was approved, Principal Rusher and the Director of Special Services set to work alongside ABCreative consultant Julie Scott to design their new musical garden.
Park Hill serves kindergarten through 5th Grade as well as multiple Special Education programs and therefore accessibility was obviously a key consideration in the design process. The goal was for any child – regardless of his or her abilities or mobility device used – to be able to move freely and access all the outdoor musical instruments. Ergo the team ensured the layout and surfacing would allow children in wheelchairs or other mobility devices to be engaged, active and able to play the alongside other students. They even included a Baby Floor Piano, the first of its kind in the USA, on which students can compose their own music as they jump, run or dance, walk or wheel across the keys.
The musical garden at Park Hill is full of many different instruments, both pentatonic and diatonic, to create endless musical opportunities for both recess and outdoor music lessons but also for therapy. Outdoor musical instruments can be great motivators during physio or occupational therapy for pupils with more complex physical needs, giving these children a powerful tool to help build their communication, motor, and social skills. For social interaction within a small or large group, music is an invaluable tool. Children learn how to take turns, how to listen and respond to another person. Music changes lives because it has the power to remove physical and verbal barriers, strengthen the self-awareness and confidence of special needs students and give them effective resources for communicating with others and interacting with the world around them.