Mo Mowlam play park reopens in Belfast after £800,000 investment

Public amenity at Stormont estate features a multi-sensory area for children with autism

The entrance to the newly reopened Mo Mowlam play park at the Stormont estate in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The entrance to the newly reopened Mo Mowlam play park at the Stormont estate in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

A children’s play park in Belfast named in honour of the late Mo Mowlam has reopened after an £800,000 (€890,000) transformation.

The Mo Mowlam Play Park on the Stormont estate has been redesigned to cater for children of all abilities.

The play park, honouring 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.

People relax in the Whistles @ The Park coffee bar during the reopening of the Mo Mowlam play park at the Stormont estate in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People relax in the Whistles @ The Park coffee bar during the reopening of the Mo Mowlam play park at the Stormont estate in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Mo Mowlam is congratulated by Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly Seamus Mallon, British prime minister Tony Blair, First Minister David Trimble, and British minister for overseas development Clare Short after her speech at the Labour Party conference. Photograph: Paul Hackett / Reuters
Mo Mowlam is congratulated by Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly Seamus Mallon, British prime minister Tony Blair, First Minister David Trimble, and British minister for overseas development Clare Short after her speech at the Labour Party conference. Photograph: Paul Hackett / Reuters

Sue Gray, permanent secretary at Northern Ireland’s department of finance, said the previous amenity “provided nearly 20 years of enjoyment and was widely used by youth groups, schools and families” from across Northern Ireland”.

“The new and improved Mo Mowlam Play Park is a fantastic facility which enables all children to play together in a safe environment.”

The £800,000 investment has seen the creation of the play park, which includes a range of accessible equipment, a 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 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.”

The stone made in memory of Mo Mowlam at the reopening of the Mo Mowlam play park at the Stormont estate. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The stone made in memory of Mo Mowlam at the reopening of the Mo Mowlam play park at the Stormont estate. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire