Communication panels deployed in the Balla playground

Councilor Donna Sheridan (left) and Amanda McGuinness at the launch of the communication signs in Balla Playground.

THE first communication signs for children with special needs in Mayo have been launched in the Balla Playground.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with the boards making the playground more inclusive for all children.

The project was started by Amanda McGuinness, a local mother whose three boys have autism, who shared a post on social media about communication boards and wondered if it was possible to have some for the Mayo children.

Boards help children with additional needs communicate with their peers, which means no one is left behind.

Councilor Donna Sheridan saw Amanda’s message and got the ball rolling when she tabled a motion at a Castlebar Municipal District meeting, which was seconded by all councillors.

Amanda, who has produced many communication and support resources for people with additional needs through her Little Puddins and The Autism Educator platforms, offered her expertise during the design process.

She credited council staff and councillors, MP Michael Ring, Balla CRD, Balla Tidy Towns, Balla Parks and No Name Club for helping with the project.

She commented after the launch, “At the park today, it was so nice to see so many kids looking at the boards and talking.

“My own boys loved visiting the park and Conor has the biggest smile using the boards knowing we understand him.”

Councilor Sheridan commented, “I have received such positive feedback on the signs.

“It is essential that we make all of our amenities inclusive for people with additional needs.”

She thanked her fellow councilors and council team, including Iarla Moran, Padraig Kelly and Declan Clarke, for bringing the project to fruition.

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