Children at nine Nebraska schools get the gift of music.
By Wendy Rose Gould
With its 100-year anniversary nearing, the Hastings Kiwanis Club in Nebraska was on a mission to find the perfect commemorative project. Excitement bubbled into a full crescendo when several members shared their experience with outdoor musical playgrounds and suggested installing their very own for the local community.
“Having outdoor musical instruments available provides more opportunities for everyone to develop an appreciation and love of music,” explains Mike Howie, one of the project leads. “Music in all its forms is a key source of good emotional and mental health for all members of the community, and it stimulates and exercises the brain.”
Eager to go big, the club decided to build not just a single musical playground, but one for every primary school in Hastings — a total of eight.
To pull the project off, members needed to raise US$80,000. With motivation surging, they composed a donor request letter and mailed it to several hundred community members. The response was overwhelming, leading to $25,000 raised in two months.
The club raised an additional $32,000 through its annual community giving event and received several grants that helped members surpass their initial fundraising goal. In fact, they raised enough money to build an additional playground for a Hastings preschool and were able to break ground in less than a year.
“Installation was a great community building activity. The instruments were installed over two weeks by many Hastings Kiwanis members and other service clubs and groups in town,” recalls Howie. “Several music teachers also joined in, enhancing the sense of teamwork and community.”
Because school playgrounds are open year-round and located throughout the city, the outdoor musical instruments are available to all children, parents and grandparents in the evenings, weekends and over school breaks.
The instruments are designed to produce beautiful sounds regardless of how many children are playing them. Striking notes at a specific time or in a certain order isn’t important — they all blend together harmoniously. It’s the ideal way of letting children experience the wonder of music.
Howie says, “Kiwanis believes that when you give a child a chance to learn, experience, dream and succeed, great things happen — and that is certainly true in Hastings.”
This story originally appeared in the October/November 2021 issue of Kiwanis magazine.