April 29, 2019
The Waterford SportsAbility Weekend 2019 took place on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th April and received extremely positive feedback from those who attended. The 2019 event, which was funded by the HSE in association with the WIT Arena, built on the success of the 2018 SportsAbility Day by expanding to a two day event. The event is a key action of the Waterford SportsAbility Forum, an initiative of Waterford Sports Partnership.
The weekend got off to a great start with a well attended and interesting seminar on Friday evening. Our MC on the night was Eoin Breathnach, Waterford GAA Games Development Manager and member of the SportsAbility Forum. The panel discussion was facilitated by Paul Ryan of Irish Wheelchair Association Sport and the panel of Karen Power, Jim Walsh, Hayley Fitzsimons and Niamh Rockett gave their very real, honest and inspirational perspectives and experiences of the impact and importance of sport in the lives of those with disability and the challenges they met along the way.
This was followed by a really energetic and informative presentation from Patricia Hamm of Waterford Warriors on their ethos and approach to fitness, health and inclusion.
Finally, our Keynote Speaker, Paul Ryan of IWA Sport, told his story of acquiring a disability at a young age and of the key role sport and physical activity has played in his life. It was clear from the level of contribution and engagement from the audience that it was a thought provoking and inspirational evening and we thank all of our speakers for their generosity of time and contribution.
The event continued on Saturday from 11am to 2pm with the Come and Try It and Information Day. MC for the day was Karen Power and throughout the day Karen maximised every opportunity to strengthen relationships and develop linkages between the various organisations present. In her opening address, Rosarie Kealy, Sports Co-ordinator, Waterford Sports Partnership , welcomed all participants and representatives from over 20 local sports clubs, national governing bodies of sport, leisure facilities and disability organisations who hosted information stands to provide information, support and advice on the many opportunities for participation in sport and physical activity in Waterford. An informal discussion circle took place between all these organisations during the morning to share information and ideas and this proved extremely useful with many important connections being made for future opportunities.
Rosarie welcomed Doireann Ní Mhuircheartaigh who had traveled from the Cara Centre in Tralee to support the event and to witness Waterford Sports Partnership’s public signing of Ireland’s first ever Sports Inclusion Disability Charter specific to the participation of people with disabilities in sport and physical activity. The Charter, which was developed by the Cara Centre in partnership with people with disabilities, clearly outlines the five key areas people with disabilities are asking all organisations to consider in making active and healthy lifestyles possible for them. Following the signing Rosarie Kealy said ‘we wanted to use this public opportunity to show our support and formally sign up to the Sports Inclusion Disability Charter, promote its importance and encourage all organisations to sign up to the Charter too. ‘
The hall was a hive of activity for the SportsAbility Day which showcased a wide range of Come & Try sessions including Athletics, Wheelchair Basketball, Fun & Run (Waterford GAA), Football for All (FAI), Muay Thai (Waterford Muay Thai), Boccia, and Enjoy Tennis (Mark White) just to name a few. Upstairs in the studio, the Yoga sessions (Tracy Boland) proved very popular with children and adults alike while many took advantage of the opportunity to try out handcycles, trikes and electric bikes which were available on site. For those who needed some quiet time during the day there was also a sensory room on site.
With well over 200 participants in attendance over the weekend, the event was a huge success and showcased all the exciting opportunities for people with a disability to participate in sport and physical activity in Waterford.
Here is some of the great feedback: ‘Excellent networking opportunity for the different organisations and clubs, a really well organised event, we gained a number of new Club members over the weekend and we were delighted to launch our Teenage Club at the event. – DCDynamos. ‘Particularly enjoyed the Panel Discussion on Friday night, made contacts and we were able to offer advice to other groups in attendance. – Cill Barra Sports Centre. ‘Great to discover other support organisations and potential for linking up in the future.’ – Active Connections
Well done and thank you to all our partners who contributed to the organising and hosting of this event. For more information on this event please contact Pauline Casey on 0761 10 2682 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.