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The Mo Mowlam Play Park on the Stormont Estate, Belfast has re-opened to the public following the completion of a major refurbishment.
The park, named after the former Northern Ireland secretary of state, has been transformed into a wonderfully inclusive play park, specially designed so children of all abilities can happily play together.
The Stormont Estate, home to the Northern Ireland Assembly, is a free public park with sweeping city views, beautiful gardens, walking and fitness trails, picnic and barbecue areas alongside historic public buildings. It is recognised as one of Northern Ireland’s best green spaces having been awarded the prestigious Green Flag award and, being located only five miles out of the city, it's a great place for families to walk, run, have fun and relax.
The £800,000 investment to refurbish the play park has seen the arrival of a wheelchair accessible roundabout, swing, low-level lookout tower and trampoline, as well as a bespoke multi-sensory area area including outdoor musical instruments from Percussion Play. The instruments: a Large Babel Drum, Tubular Bells, Rainbow Sambas and Cadenza xylophone have been nestled into the story telling zone, complete with story teller's chair and colourful story circle.
Sue Gray, permanent secretary at the Department of Finance, said: "The new and improved Mo Mowlam Play Park 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".
Autism NI CEO Kerry Boyd: "It is particularly exciting that the play park 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."
An inclusive playground takes away the barriers to exclusion, both physical and social, providing a 'sensory-rich' experience for everyone of any learning ability. Outdoor musical instruments have been identified to have multiple benefits in many areas of a child's development; social skills, confidence, emotional expression, communication and motor skills.
The Percussion Play instruments were provided through Hawthorn Heights Ltd based in Londonderry, who specialise in the design and installation of play park equipment, sport pitches and safety surfacing. A representative from Hawthorn Heights told us "The play area has been a huge success and we are delighted with the finished area and excellent reviews from the public."