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New outdoor therapy area will play a fundamental role in the development of children with disabilities

25th August 2023

Group of parents and staff at the official opening of a new outdoor therapy area

The creation of a new outdoor therapy area by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust will help children with developmental delay and disabilities to improve a range of skills that are essential to their development.

The new paediatric area, located between the Child Development Centre and Lurgan Children’s Centre, provides a functional, accessible, outdoor therapy space and will allow paediatric therapy services to support children by expanding therapy aims into outdoor play opportunities.

The redeveloped space is equipped with a range of including balance beams, stepping stumps, musical instruments and a communication board, and will allow children attending therapy and their families with the space and sensory and communication resources to express themselves.

Fionnuala McKerr, Operational Lead for the Preschool Child Development Service (CDC), said:

“Clinical settings can be restrictive in terms of space and scope for natural observations of play, movement and interaction.

“We are delighted that we have been able to transform a previously unused space into a safe and calming therapeutic area for the provision of outdoor play opportunities. The areas will be utilised by Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy services. By providing this space, the therapy teams can assess and treat children in a fun outdoor environment, and parents can replicate therapy activities in their garden or local park.

“In addition to improving our children and young people’s wellbeing, we are pleased that this area can be used by our staff as an outdoor area for breaks and for service user family events and information sessions.”

Colm McCafferty, Interim Director for Children and Young People’s Service, said:

“Evidence shows that therapy outcomes for children with disabilities are improved where the activities happen in a fun and functional way, allowing for peer interaction and physical activity which allows for challenge and achievement.

“We know that exploring the word outdoors can help children overcome challenges, learn new skills and lead to healthier, happier children and we are delighted to be able to provide this therapeutic, stimulating outdoor environment for our children and young people in the Southern Trust area.”