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By Elaine Whelan
Families come in all shapes and sizes and come in different levels of ability. For families who have a parent, grandparent or child who uses a wheelchair, attempting to find an activity you can all do together can be a daunting task. Every family should be able to enjoy a day out together and there are plenty of spots around the country where wheelchair accessibility is exceptional. Some even offer discounted entry! Here are just five of the places you and your family can visit for a fun filled day out.
Dreamland Fun Centre, Limerick
The Dreamland Fun Centre in Limerick City is a dream come true for children with disabilities and their family alike. For the first time, children under the age of nine can play alongside their siblings and friends in an indoor play centre. Here, they can submerse themselves into make believe magic with an array of different areas for the children to choose from. From pretending to fly an aeroplane to being able to operate on your unwell teddy in the toy hospital. The only limit is their imagination when they play in the mini supermarket, princess castle or fire station. At Dreamland, they only see ability and not disability and believe that every child has a right to play together. Adults are charged eight euro to enter but are all also encouraged to play alongside their children. All funds raised from Dreamland go towards making dreams a reality for seriously ill children and allow disabled children to visit Dreamland free of charge.
Airfield Estate, Dublin
Airfield Estate in Dundrum, Co. Dublin is the largest urban farm and food garden experience in Ireland. The 38-acre estate includes a wheelchair accessible working farm and dairy, food gardens and food production tunnels. The aim of the farm is to inspire reconnect with food and the land and to educate children on where their food comes from and the production involved. They encourage visitors to explore, experience farm life up close and even get hands on in the working farm. The farm is also home to beautiful gardens, a heritage centre where you can learn about the farms history and even see the previous owner’s collection of vintage cars. This is the perfect day out for families from more urban homes who don’t usually get to appreciate farm life as well as a breath of fresh air for children in wheelchairs who often do not get the chance to experience a more rural way of life due to limited wheelchair access.
The Explorium in Sandyford, Co. Dublin is Ireland’s National Sport and Science Centre. Here, the whole family can experience a treat for their senses with over 300 interactive science and STEM activities. Kids can get lost in the virtual reality planetarium, lightning simulators, sensory room, live science demonstrations or get hands on in the laboratories. The Explorium has wheelchair access throughout and also offers free access to carers. There is even an exhibit that allows non-wheelchair uses to experience the difficulties and obstacles that wheelchair uses face daily. This might be the perfect way to explain to smaller kids what their parent or sibling faces while in a wheelchair.
Greenan Farm Maze, Wicklow
Located in the beautiful Wicklow hills, Greenan Farm Maze is the perfect outdoor day-out for all the family. A firm family favourite at the farm is the Celtic Maze, a half an acre maze with seven foot tall hedge walls. Children love trying to solve their way out of this maze. A streams flows through this maze and ends with a pond in the centre. However for a more peaceful experience there is also the Solstice maze which is described as being a more contemplative experience. Both mazes have wide paths for wheelchair users. The farm also is also host to the largest collection of craftsmen materials from the past in their museums. Here you can take an imaginative trip into a by-gone era and try to envisage how craftsmen plied their trade when farming life depended on horse drawn machinery and hand-made materials. Families can also enjoy a wild nature trail and learn about the different tree and butterfly species from special viewing platforms all while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. After that you can relax and meet all the sheep, donkeys, hens, ducks and so many more of the farm’s animal residents. This day out is ideal for getting out of the house, away from screens and enjoying the great outdoors but in a wheelchair friendly environment.
Tayto Park, Meath
No family day out list would be complete without a mention of Ireland’s only theme park, Tayto Park. Tayto Park provides brilliant facilities for those with disabilities and offers an in depth guide to which rides those with different disabilities, such as wheelchair users, or amputees, can enjoy. In addition to this the park also offers wheelchair or mobility scooter hire, fully equipped disabled toilets and changing rooms as well as passes for those who require ride assistance. So everyone can enjoy the fun and exhilaration of the 55 acre Meath theme park.
There are a number of other locations around the country where inclusivity for all members of the family, able or otherwise, is incredibly important. Other places of attraction like Dublin Zoo, Fota Island, The Giants Causeway, The Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow and many more are perfect for a family day out where no one is left out!