Ireland’s first fully inclusive playground was officially opened in Ovens this weekend, which will provide a leisure space for families with neuro-physical disabilities.
The playground and leisure space at the Crann Centre was opened on Saturday 2 July by An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D. in the company of the Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte T.D.
The Crann Centre, which works with children and adults with neuro-physical disabilities, had identified that children are missing out on the benefits of physical outdoor play and socialising with their siblings and other children which impacts their emotional and physical wellbeing, inhibits their physical health, and reduces their mobility.
Alice Moore and Dr Helen Lynch from the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at University College Cork (UCC) were enlisted to help survey families who use the Crann Centre’s services.
Feedback from children, parents and adults informed the design of the state-of-the-art fully inclusive ¼ acre facility at the Crann Centre.
It is packed with accessible play equipment, swings, slides, roundabouts, a trampoline, and outdoor exercise machines. There is also a horticultural therapy area, pizza oven and barbeque which will let children and adults learn new skills and socialise.
The centre piece of the playground 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 which will enable children to play at heights in a magical setting.
The UCC team have also 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 the playground’s inclusive setting.
Speaking at the official opening, the Taoiseach 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,” he said.
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,” she said.
She added ”the project has cost €500,000, we have raised over €410,000, and we are working hard to raise the remainder”.
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