Published on January 25, 2021

Puzzle Pieces installs sensory playground

By Christie Netherton, Messenger-inquirer

kid playing on playground
Skyler Main, 8, pulls himself through a roller table at the new inclusive sensory outdoor museum/playground on Friday at Puzzle Pieces.

Puzzle Pieces of Owensboro has completed the first phase of its new inclusive sensory museum and playground, the first of its kind in the nation, according to Executive Director Amanda Owen.

According to a press release from Puzzle Pieces, the playground and museum will incorporate multiple sensory stations throughout that create a physical, auditory, visual, tactile and calming experience for clients of the facility.

The playground is meant to meet the sensory needs of children, especially those with intellectual disabilities, such as autism.

“It’s just been really a blessing to have just another tool, another outlet and to be the first,” said Owen. “The impact that has is really self-soothing, calming. It kind of grounds their body to be able to process their environment a little bit better.”

The project is in collaboration with Miracle Recreation Equipment Company and partially funded by an Owensboro Health Community Health Investment Grant, which awarded Puzzle Pieces with more than $40,000 to fund the project.

Owen, who opened the nonprofit in 2012 to support people with intellectual disabilities, said Puzzle Pieces has received funds through the grant in previous years as well.

“Owensboro Health … gives to local nonprofits that tie into projects that meet their mission to heal the sick and impact the emotional and physical health of people in our community, and so we’ve been very fortunate to receive annual grants from them for different projects that really impact the overall emotional and physical health of our clients,” she said.

Puzzle Pieces plans to incorporate a second phase into the sensory museum and playground by August. The next phase will include swings and a wheelchair ramp.

Owen said clients at Puzzle Pieces have made good use of the new sensory equipment and are enjoying it, weather permitting.

“We really have spent the last month just utilizing it and getting the clients excited about it,” she said. “Now they’re asking to go outside and it gives us another opportunity to … motivate them to be active.”

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@, 270-691- 7360

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.