June 17, 2011 5:14:00 PM
Thanks to efforts by the Starkville Pilot Club, children visiting McKee Park on Lynn Lane will soon be hearing -- and making -- the sounds of music.
With a grant of $4,750 from the Pilot International Foundation, a $600 grant from the Starkville Area Arts Council, plus other funds raised by the civic club, the Pilot Club Music Trail is being developed. It will eventually feature nine instruments manufactured for playground use. All will meet guidelines for accessibility to children with disabilities.
The first three instruments -- a soprano marimba, a tenor marimba, and an alligator drum -- should be installed within the next few weeks. Additional instruments will be added throughout the next three to four years.
The project is being carried out in collaboration with Starkville Parks and Recreation, with consultation from professors in the Landscape Architecture and Music departments at Mississippi State University. Parks and Recreation workers have been busy installing base material for the trail for the past few months.
The primary goal of the project is to provide children with handicapped accessible playground equipment that will enhance brain development. Research shows that music experiences benefit the brain by improving intellect and reasoning skills, said Pilot Club member Ellen Boles.
The Pilot Club Music Trail will be available for free play and music exploration by children at the park, including school groups and organizations such as Scouts. Materials for organized activities with the instruments will eventually be made available.
The Pilot Club of Starkville, a unit of Pilot International, is a professional civic organization that strives to improve the community and achieve awareness and prevention of brain-related disorders and disabilities.
The group, which has more than 35 members, has long been known for its Mini-Bus program to provide free transportation for people with disabilities, and senior citizens. Forced to discontinue the program due to a change in federal guidelines of the program under which the project was funded, the club has chosen the music trail as its new signature project.
For additional information about the trail, contact Boles at 662-324-1105.