Brendan Murphy who is a client of the Crann Centre and his siblings Clara and Felipe at the launch of the Crann Centre’s €500,000 fundraising campaign to build an inclusive playground and leisure area for families with disabilities. Photo: Michael O’Sullivan/OSM PHOTO

Inclusive playground in the works

A €500,000 fundraising campaign to build a first of its kind inclusive playground and leisure area has been launched.

Designed to ensure families living with a disability can play and socialise together, the multi-generational quarter-acre space at the Crann Centre in Ovens 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.

The need for this fully accessible amenity is supported by UCC research. Of the 200 service users of Crann and their families who took part in the study, 75 per cent found accessibility and lack of suitable activities the main barriers in using public playgrounds.

Crann is a charity that provides supports for those living with neuro-physical disabilities.

Maeve Murphy, whose six year old son Brendan is a client of the Crann Centre said: “Speaking with the Crann team and the UCC researchers, Helen and Alice, was the first opportunity that we, as a family, had a say in something that was being designed for families like us.

“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.”

Crann’s Chief Executive, Padraig Mallon said play is essential to development and wellbeing, as it helps children build social skills, independence and emotional resilience.

He added: “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.

“However, raising the remainder will be a challenge and we are asking the public and businesses to support the building of this life-changing amenity, by donating at or”