Baylor University Interior Design Professor and Students Help Prepare a Hyperclean Play Space for Children with Compromised Immune Systems

  • Lily's Pad
    Baylor University interior design students and associate professor are helping design a hyperclean play space for youngsters with diseases that compromise their immune systems. Lily Taylor, 5, above, whose cancer is now in remission, was the inspiration for Lily's Pad, a safe space being built in Tempe, Arizona. (Courtesy photo)
  • Lily's Pad
    Interior design team Debra Harris, Ph.D., associate professor of interior design, and senior interior design students Molly Harris and Abi Young are working to define materials and develop disinfection protocols for hyperclean play space for children with compromised immune systems. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
March 4, 2020

‘The idea is to give these kids back their childhood,’ says the grandfather of a little girl who inspired plans for a safe place

Media Contact: Terry Goodrich, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-3321
Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (March 4, 2020)– Baylor University interior design students and an associate professor are assisting with the design for a hyperclean play space for children who have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy, as well as for youngsters with a host of other diseases which also may compromise immunity.

The Baylor team’s efforts are inspired by a lively little girl named Lily Taylor, who had cancer and whose immunocompromised system from chemotherapy kept her away from her favorite activities and friends. A ribbon-cutting for a nonprofit facility called Lily’s Pad, a safe place where such children can play, is scheduled for April 29 in Tempe, Arizona, marking Lily’s final treatment for the cancer, which is in remission. A prototype of Lily’s Pad will be shared with those who have shown interest in communities across the nation.

“The hospitals are good about treating the diseases, but the boredom and isolation from other kids are byproducts,” said Al Taylor, Lily’s grandfather and a retired police lieutenant who is chief executive officer of Lily’s Pad. “The idea is to give kids back their childhood. That’s something these kids don’t have. They don’t have fun.”

Lily’s parents, Brad and Peggy Taylor, struggled to find ways to keep her occupied and happy as she was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. But when they searched for a safe play space, none was to be found. With her cancer in remission, when Lily returned to preschool in October 2018, it was difficult for her to adjust after more than two years at home.

Seeking to help others like Lily, the Taylor family eventually connected with a Baylor expert in health care design and with Decon7 Systems, which manufactures a powerful disinfectant used by the military, first responders, the food industry and, most recently, hospitals in China as they battle the coronavirus epidemic.

Debra Harris, Ph.D., associate professor of interior design at Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, is working with Lily’s Pad to define the finish materials — floors, walls, ceilings, casework and counters — and assisting Decon7 Systems, which is developing protocols for disinfecting the facility and the socks the children wear while there. Two of her students — senior interior design students Abi Young and Molly Harris — are working with Harris on an independent study to assist, which provides them with service and learning opportunities.

Plans for the 5,800-square-foot Lily’s Pad — being built with the aid of the Technical Assistance Partnership of Arizona and donors — call for a playhouse, a jungle gym, a climbing wall, a “campland,” a theater/music stage, a baby space with foam blocks and a respite space for parents.

“We want the children to feel free to play — and play hard — and make new friends. And we want to let the parents relax, perhaps with a ‘revive’ room, a sensory room where they can go to take a 30-minute break in a relaxing sensory environment and a private space to make necessary calls to insurance companies or the like,” Harris said.

The team will use Baylor’s environmental forensics and textile laboratories as they prepare materials and develop protocols for using Decon7.

“We want to define the best way possible of keeping the space hyperclean so parents and doctors will have confidence in referring families to Lily’s Pad,” Harris said.

Decon7 Systems, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, has helped during hurricanes and other disasters, and “we try to work with charitable institutions, too, but this is our first time to do something like this with children,” said Joe Hill, the company’s senior vice president of safety, security and defense. “Lily’s Pad has been very proactive. I sat down with them and they told us what they’re trying to do and the kind of product they’re looking for. Decon7 seemed to be a really good fit, so we’ll be working with Al to provide a solution for Lily’s Pad.”

Molly Harris is excited about working with Professor Harris and Young to investigate durability and functionality of materials for Lily’s Pad.

“Searching for materials that will work in this clean play space is a challenge because of the high standards for health and cleaning that must also work for a playground-like interior space,” she said. “As seniors, Abi and I have had courses and health care projects that have provided us with the knowledge capable of finding appropriate surface materials. However, this project is unlike others in the sense that we are micro-focused on specifications and have the time to research individual products thoroughly.”

As a student and future interior designer, Molly Harris said that an experience like this is not only valuable for her education, but it also gives her the chance to make a difference and help others.

“Lily and children in her position deserve a place to enjoy themselves and socialize, and I am honored that I get to be a part of this project and help find materials that will be safe for the kids,” she said.

Young said that assisting with Lily’s pad provides her and Molly Harris with “a unique experience we can bring to potential employers.

“With the projects we are given throughout our four years at Baylor, we come across a lot of hypothetical situations/simulations, with some projects tied to the community of Waco with real clientele,” Young said. “But this private study we are doing for Lily’s Pad is giving us hands-on experience to educate and grow us for our careers.

“This experience has been incredible because we have been able to connect with Al and connect with real people who are passionate about changing the world, and especially changing aspects of health care,” she said.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University was established in 2014, a result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, and the University’s Illuminate strategic plan. The anchor academic units that form Robbins College – Communication Sciences and Disorders; Family and Consumer Sciences; Health, Human Performance and Recreation; Public Health; and Division of Health Professions – share a common purpose: improving health and quality of life. The College’s curricula promotes a team-based approach to transformational education and research that has established interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving quality of life for individuals, families and communities. For more information, visit

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