New autism and disabled friendly sessions at NI leisure complexes

Two leisure complexes in Belfast and Lisburn are to put on special sessions for children with autism and disabilities.

Teddy Weston, 10, who has autism, has been coming to Dundonald Ice Bowl since she was four

The sessions run at Dundonald International Ice Bowl on the last Friday in the month from 5.45pm to 7pm with the next session scheduled for Friday, August 27.

Lagan Valley LeisurePlex sessions are held every Tuesday from 6pm to 7pm in the Leisure Pool.

Both sessions are open to customers with a disability or on the ASD spectrum.

Councillor Sharon Skillen with Teddy Weston in Indianaland

Families can participate in the sessions with their child to enable the whole family to enjoy quality time together in a quieter and controlled setting.

Councillor Sharon Skillen, chair of the Leisure & Community Development Committee said: “Children on the Autistic Spectrum and their families have been greatly impacted by the pandemic so it is important to reintroduce these sessions to provide an outlet for families to enjoy fun, family time together.

“Both sessions are specifically aimed at customers with a disability or the ASD spectrum and run with reduced numbers to ensure activities offer the same level of fun in a quieter, more relaxed environment.”

Claire Weston, mother of Teddy, commented, “We have been attending Dundonald International Ice Bowl since Teddy was about 4 years of age. Now aged ten, Teddy has a great relationship with the staff, everybody from reception, to the café and the activities. The staff are all well trained and wonderfully welcoming and understanding of Teddy’s needs; and always accommodating. It truly feels like a safe space.

“The ASD Friendly Sessions in Indiana Land take place at a time that works well for families. We especially appreciate the provision for older Autistic children. The adjustments to the session are great. Music is turned down or off and the number of people in the session is less than usual. Staff also do a countdown as the end of the session approaches to allow the children time to prepare to leave.

“Teddy particularly loves the sensory room. It’s an amazing resource! It is calm and relaxing and a great use of space if she needs some time out from the main Indiana Land play areas.

“I would encourage any family with an Autistic child or children to give one of the sessions a go.”

Sessions are available to Buddy Card holders and can be booked online up to seven days in advance at www.theicebowl.com or www.theleisureplex.com

For further information or to apply for a Buddy Card please contact Dundonald International Ice Bowl on 9080 9123 or 90 80 9129 or email [email protected]

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