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Mary's Magical Place
Landscape Architecture by Lose Design

by Madilyn Roughton, No Fault Sport Group, LLC

Mary's Magical Place

Mary's Magical Place in Hendersonville, Tenn. held a grand opening on September 25, and is now open to the public between 8 A.M. and 10 P.M. at Veteran's Park.The park makes accessible play available to the surrounding counties' more than 14,000 children living with disabilities.


Imagine children's feet climb up and down play structures, kicking back and forth from swings, and running around a playground in a spirited game of tag. When considering a play area, these images typically come to mind, but what about children with disabilities? In recent years, the park and recreation industry has experienced a shift in design of play areas toward inclusive play for children of all ages and abilities.

Still, children with disabilities face many physical and social barriers on playgrounds. These barriers might include narrow entry points, uneven surfaces, and equipment out of reach or unusable, due to mobility constraints. Physical barriers hinder children with special needs from participating in play, thereby creating social barriers for them as well.

Designing an all-inclusive playground includes incorporating all playground components, not just equipment. The surfacing, shade structures, picnic tables, and layout also include areas that can be tailored to meet the needs of those with disabilities. According to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas, designers should consider the layout of ground level play components to cultivate an environment for the interaction and socialization between all children.

Rachel McAuley, the mother of Mary Elizabeth McAuley, experienced the inequality in traditional playground design to accommodate children with disabilities firsthand. Mary lived with cerebral palsy and was bound to a wheelchair. In 2015, upon Mary's death at the age of 14, McAuley realized that, due to the inability of her daughter's wheelchair to pass through loose fill substances, Mary never experienced the joy of playing on a playground.



Mary's Magical Place

Mary's Magical Place

Freestanding and wheelchair accessible instruments were implemented within the park. They are designed to improve auditory, hand-eye, fine motor, strategic thinking, and social skills. The playground's safety surfacing was manufactured by No Fault Sport Group.


Because of this firsthand experience with their daughter, Tommy and Rachel McAuley, along with the Hendersonville Rotary Foundation, rallied their community of Hendersonville, Tenn., to build Mary's Magical Place, an 11,000 square foot play space dedicated to the inclusion of children with special needs. The playground is designed to be a place where children and adults of all abilities can play.
Much of the funding and planning for the play space was completed by volunteers and through donations from community groups and businesses, such as Junior Service League of Hendersonville, The HCA Foundation, The Reeve Foundation, Tennessee Disability Coalition, Binks Outfitters, Hendersonville Fire, The Nashville Predators Foundation, and more.

The project's designer and architect, Lose Design of Nashville, considered the many aspects of creating an all-inclusive playground from the layout to the equipment and surfacing. Construction was overseen by Olympian Construction of Hendersonville.

Recreational Concepts of Landscape Structures provided the equipment and shade structures for the project. The equipment includes traditional play equipment and equipment designed for those with special needs. Mary's Magical equipment includes:
• Cozy Dome®: Freestanding dome for children to climb or take a break inside. Designed to develop proprioception, balance, motor planning, upper body strength, and problem-solving skills.
• Roller Table™: Wheelchair accessible and freestanding table designed to develop tactile, auditory, coordination and motor planning.
• Easy transition and wheelchair swings: Swings with specialized seating for the accessibility of those with mobility devices.



Mary's Magical Place

The We-sawa,,? is a multiseat, easily accessible see-saw designed by Landscape Structures Inc., to enhance cooperation and the development of balance, flexibility, core strength, and problem-solving skills.


In addition to the play equipment, the play area surfacing was specifically selected for the inclusion of those with mobility devices. Loose fill surfaces are not easily accessible due to the uneven nature of these materials. For this reason, artificial turf (provided by Forever Lawn of Tenn.) and poured-in-place rubber surfacing were selected as part of the design.

The safety surfacing, by No Fault Sport Group, on Mary's Magical Playground is a seamless rubber surfacing designed to be porous, slip resistant, freeze/thaw resistant, and ADA compliant.

Mary's Magical Place held a grand opening on September 25th and is now open to the public between 8 A.M. and 10 P.M. at Veteran's Park, Hendersonville, Tenn. The park makes accessible play available to the surrounding counties' more than 14, 000 children living with disabilities.



As seen in LASN magazine, April 2019.



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September 21, 2019, 11:31 am PDT

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