Education Minister John O’Dowd has visited Roddensvale School in Larne to cut the first sod for the long-awaited hydrotherapy pool.
The £944,000 facility is part of a £1.5m investment package from the Department of Education’s minor works scheme, which also includes a new £578,000 transition block for pupils aged 16-19. This extension incorporates two classrooms, dining area, hygiene room and other facilities.
During his visit, the Minister said: “I am delighted to be here today to mark commencement of work on the hydrotherapy pool and officially open the new extension. This is a scheme that I have been personally involved in for some time so it gives me great pleasure to attend this special event.
“When I visited the school back in 2014, a very strong case was made for the pool and I gave my commitment to deliver this. It is something the school has been campaigning for over many years.
“The hydrotherapy pool will complement the teaching and personal development that goes on within the school and help contribute to the pupils’ overall experience at by easing, even temporarily, some of the pain and discomfort these children have to deal with on a daily basis.”
Speaking about the new transition block, Mr O’Dowd added: “The extension at the school will provide an important space for the senior pupils to learn and socialise in. The independent access will provide those pupils with an extra sense of independence as they near the end of their time at Roddensvale.
“I thank Principal John Madden and the Board of Governors for inviting me to mark this special day in the life of Roddensvale. The staff, support staff and everyone involved with the school make a real difference to the lives of so many children, young people and their families.
“I am sure that both the pool and the new extension will provide benefits for the school and the local community for many years to come.”
Roddensvale Principal John Madden said the new extension had “transformed the quality of provision” for pupils aged 16-19.
He added that hydrotherapy pool, which is expected to be completed later this year, will make “a considerable difference, particularly to those pupils with complex medical and physical needs”.
“The benefits of hydrotherapy are well documented and the entire school community are thrilled that such a facility will be arriving onsite here at Roddensvale,” Mr Madden said.