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(UK) NI: Co Antrim park introduces 'quiet hour' for autistic kids

May 20, 2021, NI Belfast Live: People's Park Ballymena's new 'quiet hour' aims to make area more autism friendly

A Co Antrim council are introducing a one-hour slot especially for children who enjoy playing in quieter surroundings in one of their most popular parks. Mid and East Antrim council recently rolled out the 'quiet hour' initiative to the People's Park in Ballymena on a trial basis at the revamped multi-sensory and ability play area in People’s Park, Ballymena. As well as asking all visitors to keep noise levels to a minimum during their visit at the designated slots, the council will also ensure there is no noisy machinery near the park that could be overstimulating for guests. Knowing that busy play parks can be overwhelming for some, they hope that this new initiative will allow the park to become more inclusive for all children in the Borough by allowing everyone to enjoy the facilities and making Mid and East Antrim more autism friendly. As the council work towards achieving 'Austism Friendly' status in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Autism NI, their 'Autism Champions' are working to ensure that all leisure centres, visitor attractions and public spaces more inclusive to the additional needs of autistic children and adults, and their families and carers. Mid and East Antrim councillor Matthew Armstrong who championed the 'quiet hour' scheme expressed how he was hopeful they would be delivered on a regular basis after having enjoyed sessions in the park with his young family. Cllr Armstrong is a father to three children - Ollie, Macie and Caleb - and understands the importance of initiatives such as this in the area as his son Caleb is autistic.


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