A Galway County Councillor has said that it is unacceptable that there are no outdoor recreation play facilities for the large number of teenagers in Ballinasloe.
Cllr Evelyn Parsons said the situation needs to be addressed in the upcoming Local Area Plan for Ballinasloe.
“I am keenly aware that despite having over 1,800 teenagers living, attending our excellent schools and youth services in Ballinasloe, there is no teenage recreational area catering to their specific needs – unlike other towns within the county,” said Cllr Parsons.
“It’s only fair that teenagers in Ballinasloe and East Galway also get every support as they navigate this key transitional phase in their development.
She said that other towns like Loughrea, Tuam and Oughterard have teen recreational areas, with skateboard parks, climbing frames, ziplines, age appropriate swings, benches, and spaces.
Cllr Parsons said that these spaces ensure recreational needs are met for all young people – including those who don’t engage in organised sports, those who are marginalised, disadvantaged or who may have either an obvious or invisible disability.
“I have huge concerns about the effects of this pandemic on our teenagers. Our young people have come through three lockdowns in the past two years and have had their short lives, their education, their emotional health and socilaization unnaturally disrupted,” added Cllr Parsons.
“An activity based teen zone would help combat increasingly sedentary lifestyles, screentime, social isolation, mental& emotional health and issues, rising childhood obesity.
“Our teenagers have missed out on meeting their friends, their wider families, developing peer relationships, and sharing sporting experiences.
“Their mental health as well as physical has suffered and many have become socially isolated.
“Some of them too have lost valued family members and faced grief without the traditional community supports of funerals and gatherings.”
As a designated key town in the upcoming County Development Plan, Ballinasloe has a large and growing teen population she stated, calling on Galway County Council to urgently prioritise the planning and provision of a teenage recreational zone with full accessibility for Ballinasloe East Galway youth.