Organised by Vision Sports Ireland (VSI)* MayFest, the multi-sports festival for people with vision impairments and friends, featured opportunities to experience and demo sports along with competitive events. The weekend of events began on Friday 20th May with MayFest TalkFest, a conference focused on what’s new and trending in sport for individuals with vision impairments.
TalkFest featured presentations and practical demonstrations by experts from Sport Ireland, Paralympics Ireland, Local Sports Partnerships, Childvision, NCBI, and various NBGs including FAI and Judo. A special shoutout to Liam O’Donoghue, and thanks to his work, VI tennis was played for the first time in Ireland at MayFest 2016.
Also speaking at the conference was CARA’s very own National Training and Education Coordinator, Kate Feeney. Kate represented CARA discussing our role in creating a collaborative platform for stakeholders, highlighting how we can go far alone but we can go further together. With this she invited all present to listen, talk and learn from each other over the course of the weekend for the benefit of children and adults with a vision impairments.
CampAbilities Ireland was a key focus to this presentation and with the help of Michael O’ Connor, a previous camper and current volunteer, and Nadine Lattimore, Leader In Training Coordinator, a worthwhile and insightful presentation was shared on camp. Michael spoke about what camp has meant to him from trying out new sports to ‘building a network of peers that he didn’t realise he needed’ until camp. Nadine provided an insight into the Leader in Training programme and how it hugely benefits those involved by developing their confidence and independence through a range and variety of roles and activities.
It was a great honour and privilege for CARA staff, Niamh Daffy and Kate Feeney to be invited to meet with guest speaker President Michael D Higgins, and indeed it was rewarding to witness the President of Ireland taking time to listen and talk to the participants showing his support in acknowledging and appreciating physical activity and sport for people with vision impairments.
“Events such as today’s demonstrate the wealth of sporting opportunities that exist for visually impaired people – activities through which they can embrace the enjoyment and benefits that go with physical activity, play, team spirit, and the surpassing of one’s own limits,” said President Higgins.
As a whole, MayFest 2016 holds the record for the highest MayFest participation and attendance levels ever. This event has reaffirmed the need to listen, learn and how we must act together to increase opportunities for people with vision impairments in sport and physical activity in Ireland. This will reinforce CARA’s vision of active and healthy lifestyles for people with disabilities.
As a guest at the event CARA would like to commend the small dedicated VSI team namely Joe Geraghty and Sarah McLaughlin for their hard work and effort to make this event a great success, well done and congratulations to all involved!
*Vision Sports Ireland, founded in 1988, is the officially recognised national governing body (NGB) with responsibility for organising sporting activities for blind and vision impaired people in Ireland.