By Dan Walsh
Wexford County Council’s Special Projects Team won the award in the Disability Services Provision Category, for the inclusive Communications Board in the Min Ryan Park in Wexford town, at the Chambers Ireland 2020 Local Government Awards.
The collaboration between Wexford County Council, Inclusion Ireland, the InterAcT initiative of Trinity College, The Speech and Language Therapy Unit of the Central Remedial Clinic, Dublin and the HSE resulted in a first of its’ kind board that has received numerous requests for replication across the country.
The communication board is based on a number of factors, including: Acknowledging the variations in people and how they may communicate, offering an alternative communications method and taking time to listen by sight using symbols, gestures and pictures.
The means to communicate is essential for people’s physical and mental well-being. For a child, the ability to communicate is vital for their development, health, safety, and wellbeing. The communication board supports this necessity, and it does so in a fun, inclusive and practical way.
Min Ryan Park, an amenity that embraces play, imagination, creativity, nature and a sense of community, is an ideal location to engage elements that are at the core of any child’s development.
Since the opening of the park, there has been a massive outpouring of interest in the boards from across the country and beyond.
Brian Galvin, Senior Engineer, Special Projects, Wexford County Council, said of the win;“Min Ryan Park was developed by Wexford County Council at Killeens and opened to the public in June. The idea for a communication board at the Park came locally from Maria Banville of Cottage Autism Network and Jennifer Whelan of the HSE. The design and development of the board was a collaboration between Jennifer Whelan of the HSE, Dr. Rhona Dempsey, of the InterAcT initiative, the Speech and Therapy Unit of the Central Remedial Clinic and Wexford County Council. The end result is a single product which we believe improves the opportunity to communicate for many people across a broad spectrum of abilities.”
The 17th annual Excellence in Local Government Awards ceremony was held online and was organised in association with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.