Taoiseach opens Ireland’s first fully inclusive playground and leisure space for families with neuro-physical disabilities
Ireland’s first fully inclusive playground and leisure space for families with neuro-physical disabilities was officially opened at the Crann Centre Ovens by An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin on Saturday.
Through their work with children and adults with neuro-physical disabilities and their families, Crann identified that children are missing out on the benefits of physical outdoor play with their siblings and other children which impacts their emotional and physical wellbeing, inhibits their physical health, and reduces their mobility.
With the guidance and support of Alice Moore and Dr Helen Lynch from the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at University College Cork (UCC), Crann surveyed the children, adults and families who use their services. Parents shared the negative impact of not playing together as a family on their child with a disability and their entire family, and how being excluded from risky, unstructured, and social play has impacted their child’s wellbeing and development.
The feedback from children, parents and adults informed the design of this quarter-acre facility and it is packed with accessible play equipment, swings, slides, roundabouts and a trampoline.
The centre-piece is a giant accessible wooden pirate ship which has been hand-built by volunteers Terry O’Neil and a group of highly skilled carpenters who have given their time voluntarily to create an amazing structure.
The horticultural therapy area, pizza oven and barbecue will let children and adults learn new skills and socialise while outdoor exercise machines will allow people to socialise while they exercise.
Speaking at the official opening the Taoiseach, who was in attendance with Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte, said: “I’m delighted to be at the Crann Centre today for the delivery of this wonderful facility, which will be of benefit to families with disabilities and for the children in particular.
“The development of this playground is a fantastic accomplishment for everyone involved, and I want to acknowledge all the sponsors, supporters and volunteers who worked hard in making this project a reality. The hard work and sacrifice will not be forgotten by the families who will get to enjoy this playground for years to come.”
Speaking at the official opening, Kate Jarvey, Crann Founder and Board Chair, shared the excitement of the Crann team for what the playground will mean for children, adults, and families. It will change the way that families experience play together and with their siblings and peers. They can stay longer because there are a suite of accessible bathrooms, dining facilities and parking which means that families can relax knowing that all they will need to be together is here.
"The project has cost €500,000, we have raised over €410,000, we are working hard to raise the remainder,” she added before thanking the many individuals, families, companies and Cork County Council who have donated money, time, and materials to the project .
Children, adults, and families living with neurophysical disabilities can book their visit to the playground on www.cranncentre.ie.