Almost €3m invested in county playspace facilities

By William O'Connor

BY THE end of 2019, South Dublin County Council will have invested almost €3 million on developing play facilities across the county as part of its five-year Playspace Programme and the Regional Playground refurbish-ment programme.

This includes the construction of playgrounds and playspaces at over 30 locations, ensuring children in all parts of the county have an opportunity to access play facilities close to home.

pg23 Avonbeg playspace Tallaght children playing in sand

Consultations were held in many other locations where residents ultimately decided that play facilities were not required in their communities.

Many areas across Tallaght, Clondalkin and Lucan have benefited from these playspaces in parks and estates and they have been a huge benefit to families and, in particular, children.

However it’s important that these playspaces are respected by everyone as The Echo understands that nearly €300,000 was invested on maintaining these playgrounds.

According to a council spokesperson: “This figure encompasses about 80 individual sites and includes adult exercise equipment, Multi Use Games Areas, playgrounds, and skateparks. Less than 10 per cent of that figure relates to repair or replacement of equipment with wages and minor works making up the remainder of that figure.”

People may notice in certain playgrounds that the frames around the playspaces have been damaged by individuals who tend to leave their names engraved on the wooden frames.

In recent years there has been an increased emphasis by the council on the physical and mental well-being of children growing up in urban areas.

Research has shown that there has been a significant rise in levels of obesity, childhood diabetes, high levels of stress and increasing sedentary lifestyles over the past 20 years.

The Councils Five-year Playspace Programme was therefore proposed to address the deficiency of play opportunities in the immediate environment of children’s homes. The innovative programme is based on encouraging imaginative, constructive and social play.

Creating better play environments outside people’s houses will incur benefits for the physical and mental health of children as they grow up. In addition, these spaces also confer benefits on communities, and parents interact with each other through their children’s friendship with other children. In residential areas it leads to less social isolation and more social cohesion.

These spaces also add to the attractiveness of the areas in which they are placed – they are robust, being made of mostly naturally found material, earth mounding etc., and are thus less susceptible to vandalism.

“Right across the county we are witnessing hundreds of hours of play and exercise by children in playspaces where previously there were largely deserted green areas,” said a council spokesperson.

“They have also brought great life and activity into our parks with increased numbers of children out and about wherever facilities have been provided.

“Residents also report much more social interaction among parents and grandparents – the playspaces are becoming central meeting points in many communities.”

The facilities are also regularly used by schools, particularly when running and robust play in many schools is now being restricted. This is a very welcome development considering that children are far less physically active than previous generations and are suffering the health effects of this inactivity.

Corkagh Park Playground will undergo a major refurbishment later this year. The design is unique and exciting and will include a major water play area more typical of the large European playgrounds and a complete retrofit of equipment.

Major works are also planned for Dodder Valley Park and consultations are expected to start in the coming weeks.

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