LISBELLAW Primary School officially opened its new and improved lower playground on Friday, April 30 with a special appearance from a local sporting hero.

Thanks to funding from the Department of Education, the school was able to enhance its lower playground, which now includes a summer house, water wall, mud kitchen, bug hotel, picnic table, scooter track, quiet area, construction area, creative area and even a mechanic’s garage.

Northern Ireland Ladies Football Player, Casey Howe, officially cut the ribbon to open the new playground. She later paid a brief visit to each class and answered many interesting questions, inspiring many of the school's talented children to follow in her footsteps.

Speaking about the lower playground project and its official opening, school principal Jason Kilfedder said: "Much needed health and wellbeing funding from the Department of Education was put to good use.

"It has been a priority in our school development plan, even before Covid-19, to do a complete make-over of the lower playground.

"We are very fortunate to have so much space with beautiful views all around us.”

He continued: “It has been a real team effort to get our new outdoor learning area in place for the children. They have been loving it so far."

Mr. Kilfedder explained that the primary school's foundation stage classes have been making great use of the new facilities and have "literally taken the learning outdoors".

He said: "The children have been superb and have loved getting back to school and reconnecting face to face with their friends again.

"It makes it all worthwhile to see the smiles on their faces once again.”

The opening of the playground also coincided with the centenary of Northern Ireland (NI), which the school took the opportunity to celebrate that same day.

Mr. Kilfedder added: "Our very supportive Parent Teacher Association (PTA) hosted a 'bubble tea party' so that each class could enjoy a few treats before going to explore the new facilities.

"Dana Taylor, PTA Chairperson, designed a beautiful three-tiered NI-themed cake for all to enjoy.

"Thanks to Exitech Digital for supplying us with an interactive touchscreen allowing the children to listen to the song, ‘I am Northern Ireland’, and to the NI100 committee for paying us a visit in the official NI centenary car."