Melody Day was awarded the Youth Champion 4 Inclusion Award from Play 4 ALL and Cunningham Recreation. Melody, a student at Heritage Elementary in Wentzville, Missouri, inspired her entire school and surrounding community to create a place where everyone could “belong” and play together. The award is accompanied by a gift of a Buddy Bench to be installed at the location of the recipient’s choice and a gift card.
All Melody ever wanted was to feel included while hanging with her friends during recess. She found that friends would spend little time with her before running towards the playground structure. Melody was forced to sit on the sidelines because the concrete barriers and pea gravel posed obstacles for her mobility device.
One day while in fourth grade, Melody looked beyond the barriers and saw opportunities. Since the school district did not have funds earmarked for playground renovation, she decided she would raise the money herself. Consequently, she designed a PowerPoint presentation and asked the school principal if she could present her case. Shortly thereafter, a Go Fund Me was set up and the news spread around the school; Melody Day has set out to bring more inclusion to our playground. Kids started to pitch in and create items to sell. Allowances were given, birthday gifts were exchanged for support towards this mission and the PTA declared that this project had the utmost priority.
Victoria Babb, Play 4 ALL Community Resource Manager, a Division of Cunningham Recreation who is local was asked to join the team. Months later, the Melody Garden was designed and before long 100% of the funds were secured. “There’s nothing that can stop a mission like creating spaces for children to play together. Play is universal, a great equalizer. We need more of these spaces than ever before,” said Babb.
On August 20, the space that Melody had envisioned two years prior was finally a reality. A dream had been realized and all her hard work had paid off. Volunteers including the Wentzville Firefighter Outreach and Cunningham Recreation worked to install inclusive outdoor Freenotes Harmony Park musical instruments and buddy bench that make up the Melody Garden. To read the full story visit: