€250,000 has been pledged to a fundraiser aiming to raise €500,000 to create an inclusive playground and leisure area for families with disabilities in Cork.
The money was raised through a fundraising campaign organised by charity organisation The Crann Centre, which provides support for those living with neuro-physical disabilities.
The facility, which is to be the first of its kind in Ireland, will be located on the grounds of the Crann Centre in Ovens.
Recent research by University College Cork found that of the 200 service users of Crann and their families, 75% found accessibility and lack of suitable activities the main barriers in using public playgrounds.
Crann’s Chief Executive, Padraig Mallon said that play is essential to development and wellbeing as it helps children build social skills, independence and emotional resilience.
"Three in five of those who use Crann said that the opportunity to engage in risky play — like in a playground environment — helped with development. However, because of the lack of accessible facilities, children living with disabilities are missing out. Adults with disabilities too have little access to inclusive spaces for relaxation. That is why we have committed to building this playground and leisure area this year. It will cost €500,000, and we are delighted to have half the funds pledged already.”
The multi-generational quarter-acre is accessible for wheelchair users of all ages. It will include a giant pirate ship, swings, slides, ramps, and climbing walls. There will also be a sensory garden, basketball court, accessible tabletop games, picnic benches, and a barbecue area. Building has commenced and is expected to be completed by November.
Speaking at the Crann Centre, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the "trailblazing project by the Crann Centre, which included the input of families in its design, will provide a unique place where families can play together, with equipment chosen to maximise inclusion. It will be a shining example of what can be achieved to allow families living with disabilities to play, socialise, and grow in a safe and fun way.”
Maeve Murphy, whose six year-old son Brendan is a client of the Crann Centre said that the design of the new playground is fantastic. "To have a whole playground that is accessible opens up a world of fun for children with disabilities. When it is built, this amenity will mean Brendan can fully experience the fun and enjoyment of a playground, and play side-by-side with friends and family. This is something that we are really excited about.”