Europe’s first all-inclusive indoor play centre for sick and disabled children had a preview opening in Castletroy’s Park Point Complex on Friday.
Dreamland, the brand new play centre set up by the Share a Dream Foundation, will cater for Ireland’s 80,000 disabled children, recreating the magic of Disneyland at home.
Speaking at the opening was Share a Dream Founder, Shay Kinsella: “This is a big news story for Limerick.
“Travelling with sick children can be an ordeal when you consider all the medicine parents have to bring and parking and It’s not easy. Now they can come to Dreamland in Limerick.”
Dreamland facilitates both sick and disabled children and is designed in such a manner as to allow them to play side by side with their siblings.
The play centre’s magical design provides plenty of fodder for the imagination with special sensory rooms suitable for autistic children, themed princess and pirate playrooms, a magical palace, tree-house, slide and an even an airplane.
It also boasts a hand-painted enchanted forest area which disguises a ramp leading down to the airplane-making it wheel chair accessible. “It’s not a ramp, it’s seen as an enchanted forest” so that no child feels left out or different, the Share a Dream founder said.
The playrooms, painted by Global Attractions, an Italian art company, includes a princess themed party area, complete with chandeliers and a long elegant dining table.
During parties, Share a Dream staff will don fancy dress and serve child-friendly pink champagne and little princess or pirate themed treats.
Next door, the ‘Under the Sea’ themed playroom featuring ‘Ollie the Octopus’ doubles as a therapeutic sensory room for special needs visitors. Its calming colours and special light effects make it suitable for children and adults with Autism.
Speaking about where the idea for Dreamland came from, Mr Kinsella said, “I had a dream to build a playground of some description but when I looked at all the playgrounds around the country I realised there was no playground suitable for disabled children”.
Currently between all of the Share a Dream events the foundation holds, they are able to help approximately 1200 families per year, though Project Manager, Ciara Brolly, hopes the monetization of Dreamland will enable the charity to make a lot more children’s dreams come true.
The Share a Dream Foundation also believe that the new Dreamland fun centre will be a driving force in generating extra tourism for the area and are expecting over 200 visitors daily.
“People are already traveling all the way down from Dublin to visit the fun centre. They’ll travel anywhere to let their children feel normal,” Ms Brolly added.
Share a Dream’s Dreamland complex will officially open its doors to the public on November 24.
*This article originally appeared in the 2016 edition of the Limerick Voice newspaper.