The final session of the summer kayaking programme organised by Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub off the pier in Donegal Town was held last Sunday morning.
Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub is an exciting initiative led by Donegal Sports Partnership with the aim of increasing opportunities for the participation of people with a disability in sport and physical activity. The kaying, under the umbrella of the project, saw a total of 18 children aged from 7-18 from all over Donegal taking part.
Martin McDevitt, Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub Project Officer, said the programme was a great success.
“We ran it along with the assistance of Donegal Adventure Sports from Creevy Co-op. There was a great buzz from the first session and the programme was open to children with an intellectual disability or autism,” he said.
“We had participants from Dungloe, Letterkenny, Carrick, Donegal Town and everywhere in between. They had the option of going in a single kayak, tandem kayaking, or in a canoe or raft. After the four sessions we organised a family event on the final day and this gave the children an opportunity to go kayaking with their parents and/or siblings which was a wee bonus,” Martin added.
“The children really enjoyed the programme – they learned a new skill and grew in confidence. While we had a few wet mornings, the rain certainly didn’t dampen their spirit or enthusiasm. They had a fun and safe activity under the guidance of qualified instructors.”
Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub has created opportunities for children with a disability and their siblings to participate in sport on a more regular basis. Based on a needs analysis, an action plan was developed which focused on delivering and developing programmes in specific sports and activities including kayaking, surfing, cycling, fundamental movement programmes, equine therapy and swimming.
Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with Donegal Sports Partnership, Thérèse Laverty, said the Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub has been an extremely positive development in the provision of sport and physical activity for people with a disability.
"The increase in funding specific to inclusive sport has afforded us opportunities to develop programmes which, prior to this, we didn’t have the resources to do,” she commented.
“Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub complements the work of the Sports Inclusion Disability Programme. It’s fantastic for us after ten years working on a small budget to finally receive the resources to roll out a project such as this. Hopefully we can increase participation options and build capacity for the delivery of inclusive sport within our communities,” Thérèse added.
Mary Claire Purcell, whose son, Dylan, was one of the 18 participants, was full of praise for the programme.
“Dylan has been kayaking now for a couple of years and it’s sport he really enjoys. When he started out, he was accompanied by an instructor,” she said.
“But now he’s able to go out on his own. It has been great for his confidence and personal development. Martin, John and the team are fantastic with all the children. It’s great to see programmes like this being rolled out,” Mary Claire added.
For more information on the Sports Inclusion Programme or Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub, contact Donegal Sports Partnership on 074(91)16078 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org