Five people with disabilities will be stepping up to a Walkathon challenge this week to showcase the revolutionary technology of The No Barriers Centre in Donegal.
This Tuesday, 22nd March, the centre will see 5,000 sponsored steps taken in a robotic exoskeleton.
The five Walkathon participants are: Ciara Devenney from Annagry, Anita Jackson from Burtonport, Rose McNulty from Donegal Town, Conor Connolly from Castlederg and Brigid McGinley from Fanad. They are all undergoing specialist community rehab for conditions such as spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.
A vital part of their therapy is the Ekso Bionics exoskeleton suit – a specialist device from Germany. The suit is one of only 300 worldwide, and only 6 in Ireland, that allows people with paralysis or limited mobility to stand up and walk.
The Walkathon event will be shared on the The No Barriers Foundation Facebook page this Tuesday and people are invited to log on, show their support, and sponsor some steps on GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/f/no-
The No Barriers Foundation is a non-profit rehab facility in Letterkenny that provides affordable access to the suit as part of their mission breaking down barriers to exercise for people with disabilities.
Using technology from around the globe and neuro-physiotherapy, the charity provides unique and proven therapy for people in the locality with stroke, MS, brain injury or spinal cord injury.
The charity is urging people to back the Walkathon team each step of the way to raise vital funds for No Barriers, Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Ireland Donegal Branch, the Donegal Diabetes Parents Support Group. The three charities are the beneficiaries of the 25th annual North West 10k, which takes place on Monday 2nd of May in Letterkenny.
No Barriers, based at Mountain Top Letterkenny, is leading the way in delivering neuro-rehab support to people of all ages and disabilities.
Conor Connolly, a regular user, credits the service for keeping him active and motivated.
The 30-year-old said: “My favourite thing about training at No Barriers is meeting new people in similar circumstances. Seeing them get stronger, better and smashing their goals alongside me.”
As a wheelchair user, Conor gets huge benefits from standing and walking regularly.
“The Exo stretches out my whole body, takes away any aches or pains from sitting. It feels great to just be up walking as normal, taking steps and trying to get more steps in than the session before,” he said.
“Getting up and being at eye level or above is great too instead of looking up at everyone, but overall it is just great for your whole morale. It boosts your mood every time and is just a great workout on top of it all.”
Rose McNulty from Donegal Town, who has MS, says there is nothing like No Barriers. “I feel I am doing better when I go to my sessions. I would have a lot of stiffness, but when I do my exercise I can move around much easier. If it wasn’t for No Barriers I would be getting zero exercise.”
No Barriers Foundation CEO and Chartered Physiotherapist Johnny Loughrey is inviting everyone to tune into the Walkathon on Facebook to see the life-changing impact of the charity.
He said: “No Barriers is an inclusive health facility that breaks down barriers to recovery, exercise and physical activity. We are proud to be there for people who are discharged from care with the HSE and lack ongoing support. No Barriers is a publicly accessible and affordable place for people to rehabilitate and exercise with the support of Chartered Physiotherapists and Exercise Therapists.
“The No Barriers centre is constantly innovating and we are driven by the service users who train here each week. We are honoured to be benefitting from the proceeds of the North West 10K this year, and all money raised will be going back into the community, supporting our charity, local people with Spina Bifida and families with Diabetes.
“We are all reliant on donations and fundraising to meet the cost of running our services. We would encourage everyone to take a minute this Tuesday to watch the Walkathon on Facebook and support us in any way you can.”
Donate to the No Barriers Walkathon at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/no-
The 25th North West 10k takes place on Monday 2nd of May in Letterkenny at 11 a.m. The online entry fee is €15. There is a commemorative t-shirt for all who enter before the 31st of March and a North West 10k medallion will be presented to participants on the day of the event.
To enter online visit https://www.njuko.net/nw_10k_