Inclusive playground equipment added at Essex’s Anderson Park

Volunteers of an Anderson Park Playground Committee have begun to see their vision for a new and revitalized city park come to life as new musical playground equipment was recently installed.

Over the years Anderson Park had become increasingly run down, and the city was struggling with vandalism in the park. After research, the committee determined through improving the park’s environment and by increasing its use and making it appealing for all ages, it would build a stronger sense of community and help decrease the vandalism.

After being introduced to Percussion Play and the concept of outdoor musical instruments through Play Company, ABCreative, the committee saw an opportunity to provide a unique feature in their park and so went ahead and selected the instruments based on their inclusivity, accessibility, and durability, choosing a large Babel Drum (a stainless-steel tongue drum), Duo Outdoor Xylophone and Soprano Pentatonic Freechimes.

“I’m proud to announce the installation of the first phase of the Anderson Park playground, which will extend those opportunities for play and recreation to more members of our community,” said committee member Janine Johnson. “We were especially interested in the ability to provide sensory play for children with cognitive conditions. Our long-term goal is to make the items more accessible to wheelchair users with pathways that allow people with a range of mobility, visual, sensory, and other needs to be able to play.”

The money for Percussion Play instruments came from a combination of local grant funding (Hockenberry Foundation), private donations from several individuals, and a budget allowance from the city of Essex.

The committee is led by Lori Johnson and Johnson (co-chairs). Current committee support is provided by Carol York, Patti Gay, Tish Glasgo, Matthew Quick, Sandy Correll, and Lisa Nelson. Many other community members, including many teenage volunteers, have helped to support the project through donating their time and expertise to the project, said Lori Johnson.   

The music park is ready for use along with additional play items also a part of the revitalization project. In addition to the music park, the Volitio Multi-User Swing and KidForce Spinner by Burke are available. These play items provide play options for all children, including those with mobility issues. While access to these items aren’t fully ADA compliant, the goal is to create the pathway allowing for wheelchair access in the near future.

The additional play items were supported by grant money from the Hockenberry Foundation, the United Fund of Essex, the Greater Shenandoah Foundation, and Eaton Corporation. Private donors and funds from Tri-Valley Bank, the former MEGA organization, the City of Essex, and the Essex Community Club have also contributed to the revitalization efforts.

The project will soon receive the Comet II Spinner by Burke with funding awarded by the Pella Rolscreen Foundation which will be made available for use in the spring.

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