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Country’s first fully inclusive playground opens in Ovens

July 17th, 2022 7:05 AM

Zachariah Horgan from Coachford enjoying himself with the noughts and crosses section of the playground. (Photo: Brian Lougheed)

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THE country’s  first fully inclusive playground and leisure space for families with neuro-physical disabilities has been officially opened at the Crann Centre in Ovens. 

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 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 state-of-the-art fully inclusive quarter acre facility. 

It is packed with accessible play equipment, swings, slides, roundabouts and a trampoline.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin checking out the slide. (Photo: Brian Lougheed)

 

The centre piece of the playground is a giant accessible wooden pirate ship which has been hand built by volunteers, Terry O’Neill and a group of highly skilled carpenters who have given their time voluntarily to create an amazing structure which will enable children to play at heights in a magical setting. 

The horticultural therapy area, pizza oven and barbeque will let children and adults learn new skills and socialise. Outdoor exercise machines will allow clients to socialise while they exercise

The UCC team are committed to a longitudinal research project to understand the impact on child and family health and wellbeing from having the opportunity to play and relax in such an inclusive setting.

Speaking at the official opening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: ‘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.’

Kate Jarvey, Crann founder and board chair said the project cost €500,000. ‘We have raised over €410,000, we are working hard to raise the remainder,’ she said. 

She thanked 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

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