“A shining example of what can be achieved to allow families living with disabilities to play.”
Every child deserves to feel comfortable, safe and welcome no matter where they go, but especially on the playground. It’s the place where they spend time with their friends, the place where they make memories every summer and the place they beg their parents to go to, even on a Sunday morning when the sky is full of rainclouds.
No child should ever feel left out or struggle to get involved in the fun, especially those with disabilities. All children should be entitled to the same access, but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
Some playgrounds were built without thinking of every child and their needs, but luckily The Crann Centre has launched a €500,000 fundraising campaign to build an inclusive playground and leisure area for families with disabilities, set to be the first of its kind in Ireland.
They revealed that 75% of families, who are involved with the charity, said that accessibility and lack of suitable activities are the main barriers in using public playgrounds.
Crann’s Chief Executive, Padraig Mallon stated: “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,” he said.
The playground will ensure families living with a disability can play and socialise together, the multi-generational quarter-acre space at the Crann Centre in Ovens, Cork 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.
It is believed the playground will be completed by November!
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin praised the project: “This 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.”
One family set to benefit from the inclusive playground is Maeve Murphy and her son Brendan. The six-year-old is a client of the Crann Centre.
Maeve said this is the first chance her family has had a say in something being designed for children like Brendan.
“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.”
The research was carried out by Alice Moore, PhD Candidate; Dr Helen Lynch; and Grace Richardson of UCC’s Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. It is part of a national and international research programme dedicated to enabling play.
There are 140,000 children living with a disability in Ireland. It’s about time an inclusive playground was introduced to the community. The difference this will make is set to be astounding.