Cabry, Quigleys Point, Co. Donegal
Crockahenny Windfarm, Co. Donegal
Project type: various projects in community centre
Quigley’s Point Community Playgroup is the only child care service in the local area. It delivers a play-based curriculum and provides a safe, challenging and stimulating environment where children feel valued, grow and gain in confidence, self-esteem and independence.
The group used Windfarm Community Benefit funds to enhance their offering by investing in a living Willow Dome and Toy Tool Bench and Builders Kit for use outdoors.
Specifically, the dome is made from living willow structures which grow over time. The dome was planted in winter 2016 and in spring 2017, the structure blossomed to become a secret playhouse to encourage imaginative play for the playschool children. In addition, a toy tool bench and builders kit has enriched children’s outdoor play experience at community playgroup.
How many people benefited (directly or indirectly) from the grant?
Children ages two and a half to five years of age in the local community. In total thirty children benefitted in 2017 and twenty two children in 2018. The dome is a natural structure and with good upkeep, its growth in the community playgroup play area will be sustained for many years to come.
What is different in peoples’ lives as a result of this project?
Outdoor exercise is extremely beneficial and enriching to pre-schoolers’ development. The investment in outdoor play equipment has helped to ensure that children at the playgroup avail of fresh air on a daily basis, regardless of the weather. Planting the living willow structure has also encouraged learning about the outdoors and how to care for and maintain living plants.
What unforeseen difficulties (not related to funding), if any, were encountered and how were they overcome?
The playgroup encountered hard rock ground when planting the willow dome. The rock was difficult to penetrate and for a period of time, it put the viability of the project in jeopardy. Due to the nature of the soil, it was not guaranteed that the dome would thrive, or indeed survive.
What were the key lessons learned?
- A key lesson was managing application process and expectations of what could be funded.
- The group learned to prioritise their needs, be selective and prepared to make hard decisions when not all items were possible.
- As a community playgroup, the group are very ambitious to offer the best to children. Increasingly, the group is planning and managing the time and effort and expectations about what’s possible to invest in.
What were the highlights of your project?
A highlight of the project is seeing the willow buds come into bloom each Spring. On a daily basis, children bring the dome to life either as play space or a space for themselves to avail of some quiet time in a natural environment.
‘’Our playgroup really benefits from such funding. As a community group we often have little or no budget left after the basics of wages, light, heat, and cleaning essentials, are paid for. This fund allows us to invest in resources and tools that make a real difference to every child’s experience and enjoyment at the playgroup.’’
Aideen Tighe, Quigley’s Point Community Playgroup.