Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland visited Rathcoole last week to officially open a new sensory garden project.
The new community space at the rear of Inniscoole Day Centre, known locally as the ‘Coole Garden’, has been developed with funding of more than £28,000 from the DSD’s Neighbourhood Renewal strategy and almost £2,400 from Newtownabbey Borough Council.
The garden, which contains visual and sensory elements, aims to increase the integration of people with disabilities with the wider community.
Speaking at the official opening on Thursday (June 13), which was attended by local residents and community representatives, Mr McCausland said: “I am pleased to have supported this community space project which aims to provide a place for inclusion, celebration, reflection and renewal.
“This project supports my Department’s strategic objectives of community, social and physical renewal. These objectives aim to improve the quality of life for people in some of our most deprived neighbourhoods. They help to increase social inclusion, voluntary activity, contribute towards healthier lifestyles and aid community development.”
The sensory garden, which will be maintained by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, will be open to members of the public Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm.
The garden contains visual and sensory elements, including seating for meditation, wind chimes/mobiles and a water feature. It will also be used as an educational tool for schools and community groups and will have a community gardening group responsible for seasonal planting.
Welcoming completion of the project, Mayor Fraser Agnew commented: “Any project which turns unused land into an environmentally friendly open space for all sections of the community to participate in, whilst also addressing health inequalities, has to be applauded. I hope the garden will build upon good relations and community cohesion in the area by providing a social hub for the community.”
Una Cunning, the Northern Trust’s Director of Primary and Community Care for Older People’s Services added: “The sensory garden will provide our clients with an enjoyable place to visit and they will also benefit greatly from looking after the garden, many of whom may not have had the chance to do this before.”
Anyone who would like to become involved in the gardening group should contact Inniscoole Day Centre on 028 9085 4333 or call Sara Barkley on 028 9034 0197.