Minister for Education and Employment Owen Bonnici, together with Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations Clifton Grima and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi visited Ġnien l-Ewropa in Birżebbuġa, which will be the first garden which will have an inclusive playground. Also present for the event were the wife of the Prime Minister, Dr Lydia Abela, Birżebbuġa Mayor Joseph Farrugia, and members of the local council and the GAL XLOKK Foundation.
“When the local council approached me with the idea to incorporate an inclusive playground specialised for children who fall under the wide spectrum of autism in this garden, I agreed without hesitation as in Malta we do not yet have similar areas where parents who have children who fall in the wide spectrum of autism can take them. Just as we believe that no student should fall behind in our education system, we also believe that education is not only academic, but recreation also plays an important part in our lives. I am very happy that we will be investing €40,000 in support of inclusion in this beautiful village”, explained Minister Owen Bonnici.
Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima emphasised that through this investment, children who fall under the wide spectrum of autism will have space which can be used for therapeutic purposes, aimed at ameliorating their quality of life. He added that physical activity helps children improve their self-esteem and develop new skills. Finally, the parliamentary secretary thanked Birżebbuġa’s local council for this initiative.
Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi explained that this project, which will be implemented by the Birżebbuġa Local Council and co-financed by European funds, will lead to the embellishment of this open space, in the area known as Tal-Papa, limits of Birżebbuġa. He said that this project will benefit from €57,870 in European funds from the programme LEADER, administered by the GAL XLOKK Foundation. These European funds finance projects at the heart of localities and have a direct impact on the quality of life of their residents. Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi concluded by saying that, “Birżebbuġa deserves this project as it embellishes an open space in the locality”.
Wife of the Prime Minister, Dr Lydia Abela, said that with this project in Ġnien l-Ewropa we are showing the importance of inclusion and of taking into consideration everyone, everywhere. This work will lead to the embellishment of this garden, to be enjoyed by everyone including those who have mobility problems or autism. This is all being done as a result of the prioritisation of accessibility. “I am very proud of this government which is taking everyone into consideration especially the most vulnerable”, said Dr Lydia Abela.
Dr Abela remarked that a few weeks ago, a scheme named ‘Sens-ability’ was launched so that people who are autistic can benefit from funds to acquire a sensory room in the comfort of their home. “I believe this project will be part of a series of beneficial projects with which we are creating more accessibility for everyone resulting in more inclusion in the community.”
The Ministry for Education will be funding part of this project with an investment of €40,000, while it will also be co-financed with €58,870 from European funds.