THE first of the monthly handcycling sessions organised by Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub was held recently at the Finn Valley Centre, Stranorlar.
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 Hub has collaborated with local sports clubs, community organisations and activity providers mainly based in the South Donegal area and are delighted to partner with the Finn Valley Centre for handcycling.
Speaking at the first session of the year at the Twin Towns venue, Martin McDevitt, Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub Project Officer, said: “Handcycling is one of the key activities under the Hub project. During 2019 a total of 17 children and young adults from all over Donegal took part, so the activity has been a great success.”
“We started with a ‘come and try’ session last year with support from Para Triathlon which generated the interest to organise regular sessions. We currently run these sessions with Nonie McGirr from Tir Chonaill GAP Cycling Club and para-athlete, James Divin. Handcycling is an inclusive sport that’s open to both children and adults. It’s a healthy, outdoor activity for people with a physical disability which provides an opportunity to exercise and keep active in a safe location of the track.”
“We have both recumbent and upright handcycles which gives people the option of trying and using both types. We have participants that have been attending regularly and it has been fantastic to see how they progress with learning the skill of handcycling. We also have a junior upright handcycle which suits younger children,” Martin added.
Shaun Logue said his son, Tiernan, enjoys being part of the programme.
“It is difficult to get Tiernan involved in sports as his attention span is limited, but he loves going to the handcycling. Going around the full circuit of the pitch he feels he is a winner. The team of volunteers are so good with Tiernan. Tiernan’s brother, Diarmuid, loves the challenge of going fast and trying to beat his brother,” Shaun added.
Mary Claire Purcell, whose son, Dylan, also attends the sessions, said: “It’s a brilliant facility for kids in the area to meet once a month and hand cycle. As Dylan had problems trying to pedal a regular bike, this gives him great enjoyment to cycle round the track. ”
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.
The official launch of the Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub will occur later this year and details will be announced soon. For information regarding the handcycling sessions and about the exciting family social cycle days for children with a disability, contact the Sports Inclusion Programme or Donegal Bay Inclusive Sports Hub at Donegal Sports Partnership on 074 (91) 16078 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org