Nestled in the courtyard between Mizzou’s Lewis and Clark halls, the School of Health Professions’ new Inclusive Playground inspires people of all ages and abilities to do some exploring of their own. Tiger paw footprints lead to wheelchair-accessible structures and towers that include a Braille station and a music keyboard with drums nearby. Swings adapt to various mobility levels, an enclosed merry-go-round ensures safety and a basketball hoop adjusts to many heights.
“We serve populations that can definitely benefit from something like this, so we thought it was a worthwhile investment,” says school advancement officer Michelle Custer, BA ’03. Populations include patients of the school’s physical therapy and occupational therapy clinics as well as clients of speech, language and hearing sciences.
“This playground is an amazing opportunity for our preschool clients to engage in more physical activity,” says Christi Baker, BHS ’94, who directs the Combs Language Preschool. “We find that children who have speech and language challenges are more vocal when they’re moving and playing — especially outside, which brings new experiences to talk about.”
Baker has noticed that a favorite piece of equipment is the pirate ship, an elaborate tilting structure with a buccaneer’s map inside, where student clinicians encourage imaginative play. For the playground’s many users, the treasure is easy to find.
This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of MIZZOU alumni magazine.