“Getting more people with a disability leading an active and healthy lifestyle can also happen in the outdoor adventure environment. It can be as simple as getting outdoors and going for a walk or getting into a canoe and paddling on the water.” – Michael Gilroy, CARA Centre, Training and Education Manager
Long hours planning. Research. Refinement. Collaborating, networking, searching for funding.
Behind each CARA initiative there is a myriad of tasks, duties and responsibilities, but also people that put ideas into action. The same goes for the latest Inclusive Adventure Training (IAT) programme that launched its first pilot on 25th June. Identified as one of the strand areas on the CARA Training and Education framework back in 2013, Michael Gilroy took the lead on developing the programme a year later when he joined the CARA team.
For Michael, it was simple: get the right people and organisations in the same room talking to each other and devise a place to develop what they wanted for their sector. It wasn’t until this past year, with funding from Dormant accounts via Sport Ireland, which CARA really engaged with organisations and individuals working in the Outdoor & Adventure sector in Ireland. From the beginning, a few key players in the development of the training were IT Tralee Health & Leisure lecturer Tomás Aylward and Ciaran Murphy from the Irish Sailing Association. Along with them, CARA sought international experience from John Crosbie who has travelled this road in the UK working in the Calvert Trust and the Institute of Outdoor Learning over there. They and Michael worked closely together on the development until a working group was established towards the end of 2015. Shortly after the group came together, they conducted an online survey aimed at people and organisations in this sector to get their views around what is offered for people with disabilities in this sector in Ireland. 90% of respondents said that they would be interested in receiving disability inclusion training specific to the Outdoors/Adventure area, confirming both the need and want for training, and putting course development into action in May 2016. The launch of a pilot training was on 25th June at Cappanalea Outdoor Education and Training Centre in Kerry.
The pilot included a theory, practical and discussion session, allowing participants to apply knowledge, test equipment and experience accessibility in outdoor activities, but also reflect on it afterwards. Prior to the training, participants were to complete a pre-course online learning. Using common themes from this pre-learning, the course facilitators Tomás and Ciaran established a theme and a goal at the start of the day: to deliver high quality inclusive outdoor learning, providing participants with a catalyst for action and reshape their attitudes and opinions towards inclusion in this sector. “This training empowered me to do things rather than think about them,” said one participant.
In the afternoon, participants were able to put theory into action, and apply principles of inclusion such as TREE into practice. Simulating different disabilities, participants practiced various lifts and transfers and used specialised equipment, allowing them to problem solve, apply communication skills and gain confidence. “The practical elements really sharpened focus on the various aspects of disability and brought a greater concentration and patience into play,” said one participant.
As with the pilot of any course, CARA needs to take on board all the feedback of the many people who participated in the pilot and despite the success of the day, the approach to delivery of the course and some content will require more adjustments. The tutors and the course development group will seek to finalise the training in September. From there they will identify tutors in the coming months who will be trained to deliver the finalised version. Throughout that process we will also need to identify and plan for the best delivery approach for this course across the country and look to rolling it out from early 2017.
I think the best thing about the pilot is that it happened and that people were interested in coming along to see what it was all about. – John Pierce, Canoeing Ireland, IAT working group