The Mo Mowlam Playpark on the Stormont Estate has reopened following a major refurbishment.
The playpark has been transformed into an inclusive playpark, specially designed so children of all abilities can play together. It incorporates a wheelchair accessible roundabout, swing, low level lookout tower and trampoline as well as a dedicated sensory area.
Speaking at the opening, Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance, said: “The new and improved Mo Mowlam Playpark is a fantastic facility which enables all children to play together in a safe environment.
“This state of the art area has been carefully planned, designed and created to cater for children of all abilities. Shared play is so important and inclusivity has been at the heart of this project and the range of equipment and dedicated sensory area reflects that.
“The previous playpark provided nearly 20 years of enjoyment and was widely used by youth groups, schools and families from right across Northern Ireland.
“I’ve no doubt the new playpark will be an even bigger success and bring so much joy to many children and families for generations to come. Combined with the educational trails, new accessible barbeque area and picnic park– the Stormont Estate makes for a family friendly, fun filled, free day out.”
Welcoming the inclusivity of the facility, Autism NI CEO, Kerry Boyd, said: “It is fantastic that the Department of Finance has created a unique play park that benefits children of all abilities, enabling social opportunities and accessibility to all. It is particularly exciting that the playpark has a sensory section within it, which will be of great benefit to many of our autistic children. I hope that this new facility will enable our autism families to enjoy a fun day out in a safe and inclusive environment.”
The £800,000 investment has seen the creation of the playpark which includes a range of accessible equipment, a bespoke multi-sensory area, storytelling area and natural play zone, installation of new paths and safety surfaces to make the playpark fully accessible as well as refurbishment of the existing toilet block to include the addition of a new parent and baby room.
Highlighting the importance of play and welcoming the investment, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, said: “Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that play is vital to a child’s development and can impact on their health, well-being and future lives.
“It is also something that children and young people consistently raise with me, highlighting how important it is for them to have safe outdoor play areas and facilities.
“I therefore welcome the reopening of this inclusive play park today and look forward to it being replicated across Northern Ireland so that every child and young person has access to safe, affordable, accessible and age appropriate play within their communities.”
The project was completed by Eglinton based company, Hawthorn Heights.