THE West Limerick Butterfly Club can now go ahead and develop its own play-space for children with special needs, thanks to an €80,000 grant secured from the National Lottery.
The dedicated play-space will be located in the former Andersen Ireland jewellery factory in Rathkeale and will fulfil a long-held dream of the club which was set up in 2004, following the Special Olympics the year before.
The €80,000 grant will help transform a large empty space within the former factory which was acquired last year by Limerick City and County Council.
“This is absolutely fantastic news. We are thrilled,” Pam McNamara, chairperson of the Butterfly Club, said this Wednesday. “We will now be able to move forward with our builidng. We are so excited.”
The space in the former factory is fantastic, Ms McNamara added. “We have great plans for it.”
They involve installing a new, soft-material floor and a new ceiling as well as an independent heating system.
When complete, the Butterfly Club will have its own entrance, a quiet room, a sensory room, a sports hall and a kitchenette and bathrooms. The club also hopes to establish an outdoor play area. The project is estimated to cost a total of €190,000 but a significant amount of funds has already been secured.
Work on transforming the space will begin as soon as possible, Ms McNamara said and they hope to have it ready to occupy by springtime.
Currently, the club caters for 60 children and young adults with special, offering them a social outlet and providing respite for the families on each Saturday of the month.
The grant has been welcomed by Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan, who arranged for members of the Butterfly Club to meet officials from Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s office last week.
The club, he said, had applied to the Department of Health and Children for funding under the National Lottery Grant Scheme.
Meanwhile in the city, the St Munchin’s Community Centre has secured a grant of €35,000 for improvements to its kitchen which provides meals and wheels.
Centre manager Linda Ledger said: “It’s brilliant news”, but warned the fight for funding is not over yet.
New kitchen facilities are needed to replace the ageing equipment and these will cost in the region of €92,000.
So far, the centre has received €50,000 from the council’s General Muncipal Allocation for the metropolitan district, with the €35,000 bringing the balance to €85,000. This means €7,000 still needs to be raised.
Despite this, Linda said the funding represents a huge boost.
She said: “It was really off the wall [when we heard about it today], as we were so worried about how we were going to ahead with the extension to the kitchen. People ring us for Meals on Wheels from all over the place, but we are not able to serve everyone as we are city only.”
Separately, the Mid-West regional branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society at Ballykeeffe has been awarded with €10,000 to provide a specially fitted mobile home.
In a statement, Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell welcomed the funding, which totals more than €125,000.