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Mary’s Therapy Playground provides a fun, healing space for youngest patients

Pediatric physical therapist Jennifer Kampfschulte and patient Makenzie Greer use play to work on therapy goals.

A playground is a happy place where children can explore, learn and grow. At Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, it’s also a haven for healing, hope and freedom. Mary’s Therapy Playground is a joyful new space where the hospital’s youngest patients can work on their rehabilitation goals in a safe, secure and accessible environment. The outdoor area was designed to support therapy disguised as play for children of all abilities.

“Our patients are kids, and kids play,” said pediatric physical therapist Andrea Dennis. “This new space provides an opportunity for kids to be kids while working on their rehabilitation goals.”

Located adjacent to the outpatient pediatric department, Mary’s Therapy Playground features elements that are fun and functional. Patients in Mary Free Bed’s inpatient and outpatient programs with a range of diagnoses and abilities can work on cognitive, physical and social skills.

The playground features equipment that enables patients to work on coordination and fine motor skills:

  • TheClimbing structures
  • Musical elements, including chimes and drums
  • Rock-stacking station
  • Sensory play table
  • Slide
  • Stairs
  • Gear panels
  • Cement areas for chalk
  • Benches

The playground expands the therapeutic opportunities young patients have and equips them with the confidence and ability to navigate more effectively in unfamiliar environments, Andrea said.

“We wanted the playground area to provide an accessible environment for our patients and a safe space for us to practice the skills necessary for them to successfully participate in play activities out in the community,” Andrea said. “I’m confident there is something in the space for every child to enjoy.”

Mary’s Therapy Playground is part of the Mary Free Bed Foundation’s Therapeutic Healing Gardens project. The $1.3 million project, funded solely by donors, includes seven separate gardens around the Grand Rapids campus that provide healing spaces for patients.

“We are so grateful to everyone involved in this project,” said Darrow Goodspeed, the foundation’s Major Gifts and Donor Relations director.

“Everything we do is about restoring hope and freedom, which wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of this community.”

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