Accessible Music Garden for Park Hill Elementary

December 05, 2018

Park Hill Elementary, part of Derby Public Schools in Derby, KS, serves kindergarten through 5th Grade and multiple Special Education programs.

Through the passing of a bond, all nine elementary schools in the District will be receiving ADA accessible playground equipment. Park Hill Elementary is one of the first to be completed.

After the Derby Public Schools Board of Education approved the funding for the playground equipment and surfacing, ABcreative consulted with school administrators and the special services department on the design for the inclusive play area.

Music Garden Concept

Principal Sandy Rusher, along with the Director of Special Services, started the planning process. Flipping through magazines and catalogs, they looked at different play equipment and found what they were looking for when they saw the one with outdoor musical instruments.

A picture of a multi-colored conga drum caught Principal Rusher’s eye and sold her on the concept of developing a musical-themed ADA accessible play space.

Accessibility was a key consideration in the design of the musical garden. The goal was for any child – no matter his or her abilities or what mobility device was used – to be able to get around and use all the instruments. ABcreative’s Julie Scott worked with the team designing a playground that would enable children in wheelchairs or other mobility devices to get around all the instruments and play them.

ADA Accessible Musical Garden

Park Hill Elementary - Rainhbow sambaOf course, the multi-colored rainbow sambas were a must for the playground, which also included:

Children can learn how to read and play music in a fun way through color-coded instrument keys and notes on the Cavatina. A color-coded music book gives students songs to learn and practice playing.

The best part: The students couldn’t wait to get out to the music space and play the instruments – they love them!

First Baby Floor Piano in the US

Park Hill Elementary - Baby PianoPark Hill Elementary has the distinction of being the first to have the Baby Floor Piano made by Percussion Play in the United States.

High energy and engaging, this fully chromatic mechanical floor piano is engineered to perform in all environments with no electronics involved at all. With 8 white keys and 5 black keys, students can compose their own music as they jump, run or dance on the keys.

According to Principal Rusher, you might expect it to be touch sensitive, but the kids really have to stomp or jump and use physical movement to make music.

Finishing Touches to the Music Garden

  • Temporary fencing was installed around the playground, which provides a nice definition around it making it feel more like a musical garden. A long-term solution is being planned.
  • Benches and two shade canopies were installed.
  • Playground Grass artificial turf was installed, adding play value to the space for kids who want to roll around on it and feel the texture and softness.
“It’s awesome to hear the music playing and it’s a beautiful, engaging space for students.”

The ABcreative Experience

Julie Scott was great to work with. She helped with space planning, helped us pick out exciting pieces, and helped us get the most for our budget. She led the design, making it easy to understand. She helped us think through things such as colors so that it became a bright, fun place. Now the colors throughout from the benches to the canopy to the multi-colored conga drums complement each other.

— Sandy Rusher, Principal, Park Hill Elementary

Photo Gallery

Photo Credits: Park Hill Elementary

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