A crew works to install a new addition to the Liberty Village playground in Madison. The Mississippi Society for Disabilities is partnering with the city to add to the playground so that children of all abilities will have more equipment to play on. The new equipment will be unveiled in a ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday. The society is sponsoring MSD Day at the playground on Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. The city's Tractors, Trucks & Big Stuff will also take place in Liberty Park at the same time.
A crew works to install a new addition to the Liberty Village playground in Madison. The Mississippi Society for Disabilities is partnering with the city to add to the playground so that children of all abilities will have more equipment to play on. The new equipment will be unveiled in a ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday. The society is sponsoring MSD Day at the playground on Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. The city's Tractors, Trucks & Big Stuff will also take place in Liberty Park at the same time.
A new addition opening this week at Liberty Village is the first phase of a three-year expansion designed to make the Madison playground more accessible to children of all abilities.

“Our goal is for Madison to have the largest fully accessible playground in Mississippi,” said Zac Halstead, the parks and recreation/health and wellness director for the Mississippi Society for Disabilities.

Through a partnership with the city, the Mississippi Society for Disabilities plans to upgrade and add more universal equipment to the Liberty Park playground each year through 2021.  MSD partnered with Madison for the 2015 expansion of Liberty Village that added the fully inclusive play land.

Being unveiled Friday at 9 a.m. is a shade-and-play area that includes a 16-by-16 foot covering over an interactive set of educational panels. The panels will show the alphabet in sign language and Braille, a clock in Braille and information about insects. First Lady Deborah Bryant, who attended the dedication of the 2015 playground expansion, will be a special guest.

“The panels are not just for fun but they are educational too. This structure will be a great addition to Liberty Village for learning and interaction. We are so appreciative to the Mississippi Society for Disabilities for partnering with the city for this investment for our children,” said Nathan Hanson, the city’s parks and recreation director.

The next phase in the park upgrade will be a play area that includes a mix of interactive and sensory equipment designed for 2- to 4-year-olds.  “There will be no ramps or steps so every child will be on the same surface,” Halstead said.

The younger children’s play area will be complete by November 2019 when work will begin on the next phase, Halstead said.  “This will be a work in progress for the next three years.”

The Mississippi Society for Disabilities plans to raise the funds for the playground’s ongoing expansion through a variety of events. The society and its board are excited about the playground expansion in Madison, Halstead said. “We are revitalized, energized, and are making a positive change for our community and the state. Eventually, we’d like to take this design statewide.”

On Saturday, the society is hosting MSD Day at the playground, 9 a.m. to noon, so the public can see how Liberty Village is further enhancing accessibility, promoting inclusive play and encouraging community awareness and understanding of children with all abilities. There will be fall time activities, face painting, visits with Mickey Mouse and refreshments, including cotton candy, Chick-fil-A, popcorn and hot chocolate.

The Mississippi Society for Disabilities plans to make its MSD Day at Liberty Park an annual event each November to unveil the new phases of the playground expansion.

Also on Saturday at the north end of Liberty Park from 9-12, the city is hosting its second annual Tractors, Trucks and Big Stuff event where all types of service vehicles and heavy equipment will be on display. The city-sponsored free event gives children the opportunity to explore, climb and touch the larger, real life versions of items in their toy boxes.

Halstead said the society plans to hold MSD Day at the same time as Tractors, Trucks and Big Stuff each year. “That’s why we picked this weekend. We see this as an annual partnership of the two events.”