Families Support New Playground Project at Spring Harbor Hospital
Maine's First Playground for Children with Autism
As the regional leader in treating children with developmental challenges and mental illness, Spring Harbor Hospital has built Maine’s first playground specifically designed to meet the needs and challenges of children who have autism. The playground is designed for children who are patients within the Development Disorders Program and will provide outdoor sensory intervention and a safe place for both play and learning.
The playground’s features help build physical and cognitive skills, provide socialization activities, enhance patient autonomy and functioning, and optimize patient and staff safety. It allows a secure outdoor space for families of patients to interact with their children.
Dr. Matthew Siegel, Medical Director of the Developmental Disorders Program, explains the playground has been completely funded by the generosity of donors. "Our largest donations have come from families of former patients, which is an incredible vote of confidence in the work we do every day."
The playground is named the "Michael E. O’Donovan Playground” in honor of former patient Ryan O'Donovan's great-uncle. Michael O'Donovan was a beloved family member.
"Michael had a great spirit, and was a big kid at heart,” said Tim O’Donovan, Ryan's dad and Michael's nephew. “He also was a real champion of the underdog. We thought it would be fitting to have this new playground named after him.”
With the support of their family and friends, the O’Donovans raised the funds for the naming rights for the new playground. Focusing on this project at Spring Harbor has been very positive for the entire family.