The Department of Education has confirmed that funding has been secured for Roddensvale School’s long-awaited hydrotherapy pool.
The school has been hoping for the pool, which it is estimated will cost around £900,000, for the past 15 years.
The Education Authority will now progress with the scheme, which is expected to be completed in the 2016/17 financial year.
Principal of Roddensvale School Mr John Madden said he was “extremely delighted for the young people and the whole community” who would benefit from the facility.
“At the moment our young people have to travel for 40 minutes to Jordanstown and 40 minutes back to use their pool for a 15 minute session,” he told the Times.
“They are left hungry and tired and part of the elasticity they have gained in their muscles is lost on the journey back.
“The new pool will give the children longer in the pool and will up the number of sessions for the pupils who are candidates for hydrotherapy.
“It will make a large difference to the quality of provision on offer for youngsters with complex medical needs who suffer from muscle tightness as they will be able to have treatment in a non weight-bearing environment.
“This helps with muscle tissue and development.”
The new pool will be custom-designed with architects to include wheelchair access, adapted changing facilities, state-of-the-art roof-mounted hoists, warmer water and special emergency procedures.
The facility will also be open to community groups.
Mr Madden expressed his thanks to East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan, who had lobbied Education Minister John O’Dowd for the pool.
“Mr McMullan has been active on behalf of Roddensvale for a number of years and this project has been close to his heart,” he said.
“He has lobbied, spoken with the Minister and asked questions in the Assembly.
“I would like to thank Mr McMullan for his efforts.”
Mr McMullan paid tribute to the school’s campaign.
“A lot of hard work has been put into this by Mr Madden and the staff at Roddensvale School,” he said.
“I have been lobbying the Minister very, very strongly and when he visited a couple of years ago he promised to secure the pool.”
“This pool will be a godsend for quite a lot of children in our area.”
“Children who go to schools like Roddensvale are bussed in, and when they have to travel further they are exhausted by the time they get home.
“This is good news not just for Roddensvale pupils but also for the other community groups who will use the pool,” he concluded.
A Department of Education spokesperson stated: “Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has just secured additional funding for minor works which will include installation of a Hydrotherapy pool at Roddensvale Special School in Larne.
“The scheme, estimated to cost in the region of £900,000, will be progressed by The Education Authority and is expected to be completed during the 2016/17 financial year.”