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Patricia Browning Stone Sensory Playground Opens At St. Vincent Evansville

Franciscan Sister Jane McConnell, presents a crucifix to neonatologist Dr. Maria Del Rio and a framed copy of St. Vincent's Mission and Vision Statements to Brad Gant, the Center for Children's Physician Office Manager.

Evansville native Bill Stone told a large crowd at St. Vincent Evansville on Nov. 5 that his mother, Patricia Browning Stone, “was a pretty special lady.” Bill and his wife Mary have assured that Patricia’s legacy will live on in a way that arguably is as special as she was. Bill and Mary were in town that day for the blessing and dedication of the Patricia Browning Stone Sensory Playground, an indoor-outdoor facility at St. Vincent Evansville’s Center for Children that is meant to provide therapy and treatment – and family fun – for youngsters suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder.

“We are tremendously grateful to Bill and Mary Stone for making possible this special place of healing and growth for the most vulnerable children in our community,” said Dan Parod, Vice-President of St. Vincent Indiana’s Southwest Region.

Neonatologist Dr. Maria Del Rio, Medical Director of St. Vincent Evansville’s Center for Children, called the Stone Sensory Playground a “one-of-a-kind space,” saying it literally is one of the first facilities of its kind in the nation. It is part of St. Vincent Evansville’s Outpatient Pediatric Services.

According to the website of the Sensory Therapies and Research Institute, a partner with St. Vincent in development of the Stone Sensory Playgrouns, a study pubished in “The Journal of Occupational Therapy” (Ahn, Miller, Milberger, McIntosh, 2004)  shows that at least 1 in 20 children’s daily life is affected by SPD. The STAR Institute website also reports that another research study by Alice Carter and colleagues, who are members of the Sensory Processing Disorder Scientific Work Group (Ben-Sasson, Carter, Briggs-Gowen, 2009), suggests that 1 in every 6 children experiences sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday life functions.

The institute’s website ( includes a link to a checklist of symptoms covering children from infancy through adolescence. Resources also are available from the St. Vincent Evansville Center for Children, which Parod said is working to become a true center for SPD treatment and therapy. The playground is a major step in that direction.

“I have not lived here in 45 years,” Bill Stone told a large crowd of business and civic leaders, and St. Vincent Evansville staff, who attended the blessing and dedication. “But it’s who I am, and I don’t forget.” He explained that his mother, who graduated from St. Benedict Cathedral School, Reitz Memorial High School and the nursing school at St. Mary’s Hospital, died at age 59 in San Clemente, Calif.

“This is really special for us,” Bill Stone added as he looked around the expansive facility. “Please … use it with joy.”

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke expressed his gratitude to the Stones for the generous gift that makes the sensory playground possible. “This is a shining example of why Evansville is going in the direction that it is,” he said. “You know that we started the ‘E is for Everyone’ campaign earlier this year. Evansville is for building a community whose people can contribute, celebrate and connect.”

Father Bernie Etienne, Diocesan Vicar General and Pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Evansville, blessed the facility before Bill and Mary Stone cut the ribbon with Mayor Winnecke, Parod and others at their sides.

Immediately following the ceremony, families were given the first opportunity to enjoy the new playground. They all clearly had a good time.