Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has announced a special ‘Quiet Hour’ at the Mo Mowlam Playpark on the Stormont Estate, making the facilities more inclusive for all.
The playpark, which is designed for children of all abilities and includes a dedicated sensory area, will now be opened one hour earlier each Wednesday morning during July, creating a calmer environment for children with additional needs.
The Quiet Hour will run from 8.30am-9.30am for an initial four-week trial and if successful, will become a regular fixture.
Speaking during a visit to the playpark along with Health Minister this morning, Minister Murphy said: “Inclusive play is at the heart of this wonderful facility which is extremely popular with families and children.
“We recognise that due to its popularity, the playpark can get very busy and this can be overwhelming for some children. So we’re delighted to be able to open the gates an hour earlier one day a week to allow those with additional needs to be able to play in a quieter setting.”
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am delighted to support this initiative and to meet the young people and their families for whom it will undoubtedly prove a popular addition to the facilities available with the Stormont Estate. Making all aspects of society as accessible and inclusive as possible to all our citizens and in particular the young is an ambition which we must all continue to work towards.”
Welcoming the initiative, Autism NI CEO Kerry Boyd said: “It is great to see that the playpark will be introducing a special Quiet Hour for children with additional needs. Many of our autistic families have enjoyed the facility since it has opened and will benefit greatly from the park opening an hour early. We hope others will follow this great example and help to build an inclusive society for everyone.”
The Quiet Hour was championed by a number of parents who have been engaging with Stormont Estate staff in recent weeks. After meeting with parents and children at the park, Minister Murphy said: “I was delighted to speak with parents who have been instrumental in making this a reality. It’s so important that children of all abilities can continue to enjoy this excellent playpark as much as possible. I’m very pleased to be able to facilitate this Quiet Hour and I hope it proves to be a great success.”