A recent Kansas Children’s Discovery Center project is helping kids in a rural community find ways to have some serious fun close to home, thanks to generous funding from the Children’s Cabinet.
The Discovery Center this year used a grant from the Children’s Cabinet to plan and construct an educational play area in Marysville – the county seat of Marshall County – called Discovery Play Space, with Marshall County Partnership 4 Growth partnering to help inform citizens of the project. It is located at Seventh and Elm Street in Marysville, along the Seventh Street Corridor.
The Discovery Play Space opened to the public on Nov. 17, and is free and accessible to all families. It is part of the Discovery Center’s goal of becoming a more regional resource for children and families as it expands its outreach beyond Topeka’s city limits.
The Play Space serves a large swatch of the community, with a quarter of Marshall County’s residents made up of children under 18 years old and 6.2% under the age of 5, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“While we are a county of about ten thousand, we would so appreciate our children having the same opportunities to thrive as larger counties,” said Ellen Barber, director of economic development for the Marshall County Partnership 4 Growth, in her letter of support for the project.
The Play Space has a simple but informative design that draws heavily on Marysville’s local culture, including a pair of black squirrel statues – the official town mascot, as Marysville is one of the only places in Kansas that has the darker-colored rodents – as well as an installation themed after Marysville’s Pony Express.
The main feature of the Play Space are three musical installations – a whale drum, a bongo set and a cadence xylophone, similar to instruments installed at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center’s 4.5-acre Certified “Nature Explore” Outdoor Classroom. Vinyl prompts help prompt play from passersby.
There is also a sign with a QR code directing parents to the Discovery Center’s Ages and Stages questionnaire, a resource used to help families prepare children who are set to begin schooling.
The design was workshopped with members of the Marysville community using Zoom calls to gain feedback and get ideas for design elements.