New playground equipment music to the ears of kids with disabilities

Updated: Feb. 22, 2017 at 5:46 PM CST
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OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It's a small addition with a big impact. Wednesday, the City of Ocean Springs and the Disability Connection celebrated a new piece of equipment that is sweet music for those who need it most.

The Rhapsody Metallophone has struck a chord with David Greg and other children like him.

"You really kind of have to know him to understand that's a smile," said David's mother, Lisa Greg. "There's no greater feeling than that smile he gives you. It's the pleasure of the sound, the pleasure of the interaction. I think probably more than anything, it's the interaction."

She's wanted this for a long time.

"As a parent, it's amazing," Greg said. "It's amazing that children like my son, children with special needs, are being included in parks that are for everyone."

The City of Ocean Springs provided funding for a weatherproof xylophone. It is designed to develop sensory, motor, cognitive, and social-emotional skills. Colleen Barr is David's teacher at Ocean Springs Upper Elementary.

"The apparatuses you're choosing to put in to a park such as this lets these children be involved with other children without disabilities," Barr said. "They're not looked at as not able to play with them."

This is the first piece of equipment with five more stations planned. Organizers want to make this a centralized location for residents and schools for children with or without disabilities. It's a big part of Disability Connection's goal.

"Our mission is to get people engaged in the community, get them out of their houses, let them have all the fun things that all of us enjoy," said Janie O'Keefe, Director of Disability Connection, which has been around since 2002. "Play and recreation is absolutely at the top of that list. Socialization is very, very important for our overall health and for our children, adults, all of us."

The long-term project will cost about $100,000.

Officials said if the donations come in, they hope the additions to the park will be completed by June.

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