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|2019 STC Landscape Installation of the Year Award - Recreation|
2019 Landscape Installation of the Year Award: Recreation Category
Mary's Magical Place by ForeverLawn
Mary’s Magical Place is a 15,000 square foot all-inclusive playground in Hendersonville, TN. This unique playground was designed around, but not limited to, children with special needs. It is a place where all children and adults, ranging from able-bodied to those in wheelchairs, can come and play together.
The park was built in memory of Mary Elizabeth McAuley, who passed away in September 2015 at the age of 14 due to complications from cerebral palsy. Many knew her magical smile, and even though she never spoke a word, she touched the lives of many people. Since Mary’s mobility was impaired due to cerebral palsy, she never had the experience of riding in a swing on the playground.
Local contractors worked with Mary’s family and friends to design and build the perfect all-inclusive playground to honor Mary. The project took three years to design and fund, and it was truly amazing to see how much the local community came together for this playground. Donations from local businesses and time put in by many contractors in the area made the project possible.
15,000 square feet of synthetic grass, enhanced with specialized antistatic technology, was installed to provide a safe, accessible surface for the playground. The project features a variety of play structures and inclusive elements for children with autism, down syndrome, vision and hearing impairments, mobility issues, and sensory disorders.
The ADA-accessible synthetic grass, with a safety padding underlayment, provides a fall-safe system that is certified to 13-foot fall heights. Wheelchairs and other mobility devices glide easily over the synthetic grass, and transitions between the grass and bordering surfaces were designed to allow mobility devices safe access to all areas of the playground. The unitary nature of the synthetic grass contributes to its ADA-accessibility, allowing people of all abilities to access the playground, and play alongside each other.
The antistatic technology built into the grass blades protects hearing-impaired children with cochlear implants from static electricity, which can damage or destroy their devices during play. Saskia King, the mother of two hearing-impaired sons notes, “now that we can come to a playground like this, where there’s synthetic grass to help with static, bringing it down, is spectacular. Especially for kids who have this equipment on all of the time.”