A young Cookstown lady has been unveiled as the inspiration behind the makeover of one of Cookstown’s most frequently used play parks.
Aine Owens, sent an email to Cookstown District Council asking them would it be possible to have one of the play parks in the town kitted out with some equipment suitable for ‘people like herself’ who have disabilities.
The Council took what Aine had to say on board and with the help of funding from the EU programme for PEACE and reconciliation, were able to make Aine’s request come true.
The announcement that the Fairhill play park would be closed for several weeks over the Summer months caused much uproar from local residents, but with the park now completed the public can now hear the story behind the closure, and the young lady who inspired such a change.
Aine was recognised for her contribution to facilities for the disabled with a special reception in her honour alongside her family and friends and representatives from the council.
She was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation for her hard work and determination to help change in her council area.
Speaking to the MAIL, Aine said she got the idea to write to the council after finding a video on the internet about a play park in County Cavan which had been improved to accommodate people with disabilities.
“I went on to YouTube and typed in ‘special needs playground’ and I took an interest in this and found one in Cavan. I posted the video on my Facebook and got so many likes and comments about it that I decided to email Cookstown Council and from there it all just took off,” she said.
Aine added that she is very impressed by the work the council have carried out on the facilities at Fairhill.
“Me and my wee cousin have been down at the new play park and it is fantastic.
“I have had so many people say to me that it looks like a brand new park and I am so, so happy with it.
“I just want to thank Cookstown Council again for doing this.”
Dominic McCanny, Equality Manager for Cookstown District Council praised Aine for ‘sewing the seed of change’ which prompted Cookstown Council to make the Fairhill Playpark a shared space for all.
“You sewed the seed Aine way back in February 2013 when you wrote to the council on Facebook, and it was Keira our social media officer who picked up on the message and we took it from there.
“We had a really good consultation with young people with disabilities as well as their parents and carers and then through the whole tender process, we now have what I would call the best play area in the whole Mid-Ulster region.
“It is a facility we can all be proud of and particularly Aine, you were the inspiration behind this all and you should be very proud,” added Mr McCanny.