Mo Mowlam Play Park reopens after £800,000 transformation
A children's play park which underwent a major £800,000 transformation has reopened in Belfast.
The Mo Mowlam Play Park on the Stormont Estate has been turned into an inclusive play park, specially designed for children of all abilities.
The play park, named after the former Northern Ireland secretary of state, incorporates a wheelchair accessible roundabout, swing, low-level lookout tower and trampoline, as well as a dedicated sensory area.
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.
"The previous play park provided nearly 20 years of enjoyment and was widely used by youth groups, schools and families from right across Northern Ireland.
"Combined with the educational trails, new accessible barbecue area and picnic park - the Stormont Estate makes for a family-friendly, fun-filled, free day out."
The £800,000 investment has seen the creation of the play park, which includes a range of accessible equipment, a bespoke multi-sensory area, a storytelling area and natural play zone. It also saw the installation of new paths and safety surfaces to make the play park fully accessible, as well as the refurbishment of the existing toilet block to include the addition of a new parent and baby room.
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."
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 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."