Disability Sport NI ihas announced the launch of the District Council Disability Sports Hubs – Water Sports Project. With summer fast approaching and a growing demand for disability water sports in Northern Ireland funding has been awarded to four Sailability projects to enable them to provide further opportunities for people with disabilities. Belfast Lough Sailability, Foyle Sailability, Lough Erne Yacht Club and Craigavon Water Sports Centre were the proud new recipients of a range of sailing crafts or a floating pontoon.
The funding stems from the Active Living: No Limits Action Plan, developed with Sport Northern Ireland and announced by Department for Communities in October 2016. The Plan aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities in Northern Ireland through participation in sport and active recreation. One of the issues highlighted by the Plan, produced following extensive consultation with people with disabilities, was a need for more accessible equipment to support wider participation in disability sports.
The official launch took place at Carrickfergus Marina with representatives from Disability Sport NI, the Department for Communities, Sport NI and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council taking to the waters to showcase Belfast Lough Sailability’s new safety and rescue boat. In a great show of support they were joined by guests from a wide range of organisations including Disability Action NI, Department for Education, Department for Health, the Northern Ireland Sports Forum, Special Olympics and each of the water sports organisations who received funding. Following some brief speeches by the water, everyone was offered an opportunity to visit Carrickfergus Castle by water.
Disability Sport NI secured funding to support the four water sports projects across Northern Ireland through the Department for Communities via Sport NI. Kevin O’Neill, Chief Executive for Disability Sport NI comments, ‘I am delighted to be able to provide this equipment to four very proactive and inclusive organisations. Each of the funded organisations has worked exceptionally hard to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy water sports and show no sign of slowing down. We would like to thank the Department for Communities and Sport NI for providing us with the funds to support this project and we look forward to the many more exciting developments that the Active Living: No Limits 2021 Action plan will bring to disability sports in Northern Ireland.”
John News, Acting Director of Participation at Sport Northern Ireland, added, “Sport Northern Ireland warmly welcomes the launch of the new Water Sports Project, and is proud to be supporting the implementation of the Active Living: No Limits Action Plan with Disability Sport NI, the Department for Communities and our other delivery partners. We are committed to encouraging everyone in Northern Ireland to enjoy, engage and excel in sport, particularly groups such as people with disabilities. These new water sports hubs offer an accessible and inclusive way for people to not only interact with Northern Ireland’s outstanding waterways, but to enjoy all the physical, mental and social benefits of participation in sport and physical activity.”
A spokesman from the Department for Communities, Tony Murphy, said: “This Disability Water Sport Hub represents one of the many outcomes that we can expect from ‘The Active Living: No Limits Action Plan’.
“This innovative and award winning plan aims to improve health and well-being for people with a disability in Northern Ireland through participation in sport and active recreation. The launch today demonstrates how the plan will help people with a disability who want to be more physically active or competitive, to realise their ambitions and dreams and to ensure that everyone with a disability has an equal opportunity to access sport and active recreation, leading to a more healthy and active lifestyle.”