Paralympics on the telly, progress on the ground

August 17 2021, 09:29am


As we head into the joy that is the Paralympics it is time to remind ourselves of all the benefits sports inclusion brings.

And to acknowledge the improvements made in Ireland in the past two years through the extension of SIDOs, Sports Inclusion Development Officers throughout the country. These posts are funded by Sports Ireland.

The ambition here is one DFI can fully support, that is to mainstream. The SIDO methodology is like our own, to work in partnership. In this case with sports clubs, community groups, facility providers, schools, disability services and people with disabilities. The aim is to increase the participation in sport, fitness, and physical activity.

When this is combined with access to Sports Inclusion Grants of up to €10,000 we can see the Article 30 of the UN CRPD coming to life. Article 30 is the right to equal access to sports.

We know how well this money is being spent. Our members and our own Community team witness children with disabilities growing in confidence as a result. Perhaps making eye contact for the first time as well as new friends.

The health benefits associated with sports participation are well documented and people with extra health challenges need those extra benefits more than most. Specially adapted equipment, facilities or games can mean that no one is excluded. There is no better illustration of this than the Paralympics.

Away from the excitement of Tokyo we’d like to look at some developments in just one county, Cork. Access to beaches is opening up this summer. In GAA clubs the “GAA For All” programme has begun in Midleton, Killeagh, Newcestown and Youghal clubs to children with disabilities.

Siblings can for the first time play for the same GAA club and parents can drop ALL the kids at the club.

The trail blazers that are Sunday Well Rugby Club have led the way in integrating players with disabilities. They have inspired Ballincollig Rugby Club and Cork County Cricket Club to do likewise.