Skip To Main Content

Medford Public Schools Will Build City's First Universally Accessible Playground at the McGlynn School

Medford Public Schools Will Build City's First Universally Accessible Playground at the McGlynn School

In a landmark playground renovation, the City of Medford and Medford Public Schools will begin construction on a new, universally accessible schoolyard at the McGlynn School. Over the past 18 months, students, educators, parents, caregivers, and community members have come together to collaboratively design the park, which will be accessible and inclusive for all students and their families.

The playground renovation is set to begin in Spring, 2024. A representative design committee along with landscape architects from the Copley-Wolff Design Group crafted the plans to provide high “play value” for kids of all abilities, meaning that the playground will provide many types of play opportunities and a variety of developmentally-appropriate challenges, all with inclusion in mind. The park will include separate preschool and elementary play areas for students Pre-K to Grade 5, and features an inclusive wheelchair swing, multi-use field, a stage area, and a fully-accessible and curriculum-aligned outdoor classroom. The playground meets and goes beyond federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards to provide meaningful opportunities for students to play together. 

Students from all grades gave input, including the strongly worded request from a 5th grader to preserve the tree currently in the middle of the site: “That tree is beloved and if anyone touches it, we will cry for the rest of our lives.” In the renovated playground, this tree will be surrounded by an accessible deck to protect the roots and make the tree available to everyone. 

“By building Medford’s first universally accessible playground at the McGlynn, we are creating a safe and inclusive experience for our students, families, and neighbors to enjoy,” Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn said. “Thank you to the school district staff led by Superintendent Dr. Edouard-Vincent and the many community partners who have lent their time, energy and resources to supporting and developing this project.”

“Thank you to Mayor Lungo-Koehn and the Medford School Committee, City Hall staff, teachers, staff, administrators, and our expert family and community partners for making this dream become a reality for our students,” said Dr. Marice Edouard-Vincent, Superintendent of Medford Public Schools. “This new playground will equalize play and make it accessible for all of our learners and the community at large.” 

The design also incorporates feedback and input from experts at the Perkins School for the Blind, which made recommendations focused on ensuring accessibility for playground users with visual impairments, measures which are not covered under ADA standards.

The new playground builds climate resiliency and addresses the challenging drainage at the site both underneath the surface and using bioretention basins to capture stormwater. The site will have 100% native plants and over 25 new trees will be installed.

While the need for a full redesign was recognized in the Fall of 2019 by then Parent-Teacher Group President Bailey Schendell, COVID-19 interrupted the process. The playground redesign began in February 2022 after the school department interviewed landscape architects in Fall, 2021. Copley-Wolff Design Group was selected to work with school and city officials in engaging the public and the school community in discussions about existing uses, positive attributes, and shortcomings of the existing playground. The collaborative feedback process, which prioritized extensive feedback and engagement from the McGlynn’s educators, school nurses, specialists such as physical and occupational therapists, parents, and current students, emphasized the need to create a meaningfully inclusive and accessible school playground that is safe, developmentally appropriate, and fun for all users.

”It’s incredibly exciting to see the potential of our new inclusive playground. The kids will benefit from the varied physical play aspects as well as ‘learning in nature’ with the use of the outdoor classroom,” said McGlynn Elementary School Principal Andy O’Brien. “I couldn’t be happier for our students.”

“It has been a privilege being a part of this process. I’m especially thrilled with how many playground features came directly from the students, with feedback on how to make it usable from the staff,” said Chenine Peloquin, MPS parent and owner of local play consulting business The Playful Pelican who volunteered to co-chair the redesign committee. “The staff was incredibly helpful thinking about the challenges of the existing site and how things could work better in the future (and made us promise them shade).”

The design process was funded by the Community Preservation Act (CPA), and the $2.8 million dollar construction project is funded through the CPA, Federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and a state earmark secured by State Representative Christine Barber. Medford Public School Funding was not used for the design or construction process. 

The redesign process was led by the dedicated members of the McGlynn Playground committee, including:

  • Dr. Peter J. Cushing, Assistant Superintendent of Schools – Co-Chair
  • Chenine Peloquin, MPS parent, Developmental Specialist & Play Advocate – Co-Chair
  • Denise DesJardins, Physical Therapist, McGlynn Elementary
  • Chris Fiorello, McGlynn Grandparent & Retired Special Education Teacher
  • Vishal Goel, McGlynn Parent & Software Engineer
  • Jenny Graham, Medford School Committee
  • Melanie McLaughlin, Medford School Committee
  • Andy O’Brien, Principal, McGlynn Elementary
  • Jennifer O’Brien, Teacher, McGlynn Elementary
  • Kathleen McGlynn Brady, Medford Parent and SEPAC Representative
  • Chris Richards, McGlynn Parent & Construction Manager
  • Kaytee Welsh, McGlynn Parent & Pediatric Hospitalist
  • Director Alicia Hunt, Senior Planner Danielle Evans, & Planner Amanda Centrella, Planning, Development & Sustainability Department

With instrumental support from:

  • Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn
  • Fire Chief John Freedman
  • McGlynn Afterschool Director Kathie Hunt,
  • Commissioner Tim McGivern, Department of Public Works
  • Former McGlynn PTG President Bailey Schendell
  • City Engineer Owen Wartella
  • Medford Community Preservation Commission


  • Medford Public Schools