Today Scarlett Beecher (age 12) and Dean Crawford (age 13) joined Enable Ireland CEO John O’Sullivan for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new ‘Fun Corner’ at Lavanagh House, Enable Ireland’s respite house for children with disabilities in Curraheen, Cork. Lavanagh House has been a lifeline for families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly opened ‘Fun Corner’ has allowed children to engage safely with outdoor activities while other community based social activities were restricted. The ‘Fun Corner’ is a purpose built play area which includes mini-golf, an all-purpose sports pitch for football and basketball, raised accessible beds for gardening and sensory play and sits alongside the ‘Play Zone’ which includes a double swing set. The play area is a bright, fun and welcoming space and the children really enjoy spending time there while on respite.
Also at the opening were Cork GAA star Micheál Aodh Martin, and amateur golfers Peter O’Keeffe and Sara Byrne.
Commenting on the new Fun Corner Susan Beecher, mum to Scarlett said, “Respite is such a vital service for children like Scarlett. She doesn’t get invited to playdates and misses out on opportunities to socialize and be with friends. It’s our life line as a family and it’s her time away from us to be independent and that is really important at her age. She loves everything in the new garden, especially the new raised flower beds. It really important to have facilities like this that are accessible to wheelchair users like Scarlett. The cost of trying to put something like this in your own home would be too much.”
Also at the opening was respite service user Dean Crawford. Dean is 13 and is a wheelchair user. He enjoys going to respite as he loves getting picked up from school and spending time at the respite house helping to make dinner and chilling with everyone there. Dean says, “When I hear that I am going to the respite house I feel really excited. I really like the respite staff.”
Dean’s mum Mary says, “As Dean’s mum it means a break from a busy daily routine. I get some time to spend with my daughter. It’s a break for everyone and Dean is always in good form after respite. It’s a very important and much needed service that we very much appreciate as a family. The house is amazing and Dean loves it.”
John O’Sullivan Enable Ireland CEO said, “I’m delighted to be able to officially open this new play area which includes the ‘Fun Corner’ and ‘Play Zone’ and I am extremely grateful to two local families who have funded these fantastic additions to our respite house. Play is essential to any child’s development and contributes to their development and their social and emotional well-being. It has been a difficult year for all children but especially children with disabilities, so being able to provide facilities like this is an extremely positive development.”
Lavanagh House is Enable Ireland’s children’s respite house, where children with disabilities can develop their independence skills while giving their families a much-needed break. Lavanagh House currently provides day respite for children with disabilities in Cork while awaiting registration with HIQA for residential respite. The service provides support for families who provide continual care and assistance to children with disabilities and provides the children with a regular break. The service creates a positive and challenging experience for children with a disability and contributes to their personal and social development while facilitating social and recreational activities appropriate to the child’s age and interests.
Bird feeders and the flowers in the raised beds were provided by Enable Ireland’s Garden Centre in Limerick. You can shop online with them by visiting www.enableirelandgardencentre.ie.
Enable Ireland has provided disability services in Cork for over 60 years. Over 1,500 children and their families attend the Lavanagh Centre in Curraheen, where three Children’s Network Disability Teams provide services including physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, speech and language, social work, psychology, early years education and occupational therapy.
For more information on Enable Ireland visit www.enableireland.ie.