Ireland’s first sensory-friendly retail park to be launched in Limerick

The friendly tunnel which will be part of the family day attractions on Sunday June 17 to launch Parkway Retail Park in Limerick as Ireland’s first autism and sensory-friendly retail park.

IRELAND’S first autism and sensory-friendly retail park is set to be launched in Limerick with a special family day this Sunday, June 17.

Parkway Retail Park is aiming to lead the way in sensory-friendly shopping to make store visits easier for people with autism and other sensory difficulties. The project will be launched with an autism-friendly family day for families of children with autism and other sensory issues on Sunday, June 17 from 12-5pm.

Parkway Retail Park asset manager Sigma, which manages eight retail parks across Ireland, is planning to make the customer experience easier for families of children with special needs. They will be providing autism-friendly car parking spaces outside stores and specific tills to avoid queuing and allow an easier exit.

Parkway Retail Park will also provide training to store staff and host monthly meetings with parents of children with autism and other sensory issues to seek further input from them.

Community integration initiatives will include plenty of signage and the availability of peaked caps for people with autism and other sensory issues, which will block out light and help staff to identify people who may need assistance.

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“There needs to be bigger and better awareness of autism in our communities across the country and Parkway Retail Park is more than happy to lead the way,” said Sigma’s Paddy O’Connor, asset manager at Parkway Retail Park.

“True autism-friendliness means that we welcome you, and we understand that sometimes that you may need additional support and we are happy to provide it. Parkway Retail Park plan to host other autism-awareness events and fundraising initiatives.”

The spotlight on the family day will be on the Parkway Retail Park community providing both fun for children and information for families, and trained volunteers will be on hand from Limerick Autism Group as part of the events team.

Children’s entertainment will include a bouncy castle, a magician specialising in special needs, an ice cream van, face painting, a Lego display, music from an interactive band, a strike-a-pose performer and the Limrocker dance crew.

The event will also have an information hub where autism and speech and language therapy professionals and fellow parents will be on hand to talk to parents between 12-2pm.

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