Montezuma Elementary Receive Playground Musical Make Over

October 2018

Montezuma Elementary is a small school in rural Iowa which has recently seen their playground receive a wonderful new musical makeover thanks to their local Lions Club.

The Lions Challenge

Montezuma Lions Club elected to support the creation of a brand new pavilion of outdoor percussion instruments at the school in response to the International Lions Club ‘Centennial Service Challenge’ - an opportunity for Lions to celebrate the 100th anniversary by doing what they do best which is serving others. Local Lions clubs were challenged by their national organisation to sponsor ‘a significant project’ in each of their communities that would be of a lasting nature and add to each club’s legacy.

The Montezuma Club – also celebrating its 70th anniversary – appointed a committee to research ideas and present proposals to the club. Having seen and played outdoor music instruments in another community, Lion Roger Allen presented that idea to the committee. After further study the committee presented the proposal to the full club, which decided to pledge the club’s reserve fund of $5,000 – provided additional funds could be obtained through grants and from other sources. The committee was advised by consultants to “dream big” and as funds were raised the goal grew to an eventual $20,000 raised – from the club, from grants and from generous individual donations in cooperation with the school. One generous community individual matched the Lions club’s $5,000 donation and then another added $2,000.

Musical Makeover

ABCreative consultant, Larry Rife, worked with both the Montezuma Lions Club and the school to create a fully accessible and inclusive musical playground. Featuring

The project was completed in October 2018 and the early response by children and adults has been very enthusiastic. Carrie Burnett, Montezuma school instrumental music instructor, helped decide what instruments to include in the music park. She commented, “I’m excited to have this musical addition for our students and children in the community. Exploring the different sounds that you can make and playing the songs from the included songbook is fun for all ages. I am so thankful for the musical playground.”

Supporting The Arts

The Lions club was particularly supportive of the project because it was in support of fine arts, providing opportunity for children to have fun creating and appreciating music at a young age, something that will last them a lifetime. In a musical playground environment, “there are no wrong notes.” Children learn through doing, exploring and improvising. They have a natural instinct to create their own melodies and explore their imaginations. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later, in the same way that we all learned our own language.

Mr. Kurt Hanna, Elementary Principal at Montezuma school stated, “The musical playground has been a wonderful addition. Students now have the cultural exposure that gets them excited about the fine arts.”

Inclusive and Accessible

To see, hear and play musical instruments is an important cultural experience for every child and therefore all the instruments are wheelchair-accessible. This factor has already been bringing joy to a wheelchair-bound Montezuma student.

Music in the early years supports children's all round development and so the children from the Zuma Zoo Daycare Centre located across the street from the school were among the first to try the musical instruments. Alexa Wheaton, Zuma Zoo owner and director, said, “The new musical instruments have added great educational value to the playground. It has been so fun to watch our kids interact with one another while playing. We especially love the xylophone that has the songs with the colour coded notes to play.”

"On behalf of Montezuma Schools, we would like to sincerely thank the Montezuma Lions Club for their generous donation of the outdoor musical equipment to our school. It was very evident that the students love the new instruments as they were playing them while our maintenance staff was still securing the final bolts. These instruments will provide our students a wonderful opportunity each day while at recess to work with their friends to create a wonderful new tune. This equipment will serve our school and entire community for years to come." — Dave Hoeger, School Superintendent

About ABCreative

ABCreative have been creating parks and playgrounds for the past 25 years. Their mission is to help create outdoor spaces that bring communities together, where everyone of all ages and all abilities can go to socialize, have family time, get fit, and have fun. Offering a full line of play equipment, shelters, shade systems, safety surfacing and site amenities along with hands-on consultation, they’ve completed projects of all sizes and offer high-quality products that are easily maintained, long lasting and that are fun and challenging.

About Lions Club International

Lions Clubs International is the largest service club organization in the world. Its 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs are serving communities in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the globe. The Centennial Service Challenge is an opportunity for Lions to celebrate our 100th anniversary by doing what they do best – serving others.