With the National Inclusion Awards application deadline fast approaching, we decided to catch up with Gearóid O’Doherty, coordinator of this year’s awards. As coordinator he is responsible for all aspects of the awards, from promotion and application design, to administration and enquiries/event organisation.
Why do you think people should apply for the Inclusion Awards?
It is very important that we capture all the fantastic work being done in the area of sport and physical activity for people with disabilities. A lot of this work goes unnoticed, however, but the Inclusion Awards make people aware of what is going on so that others can learn from it and try it out. In some cases, the Awards may spark an idea for somebody else, developing a new way of thinking or doing an activity that creates an opportunity for all ability levels to be involved, healthy and physically active.
What do the Inclusion Awards mean to you?
It is humbling to see the impact a bit of openness and creative thinking can have. When somebody has a passion and vision, and acts on it, they create a setting whereby everybody has an opportunity to meet their potential and lead a healthy and active lifestyle. I have witnessed this first-hand on the ground, in the clubs, at the schools, leisure centres and in people’s everyday lives. To be able to create opportunities for everybody to participate, really is life changing.
What is your favourite part about the Inclusion Awards?
My favourite part has to be the personal stories and journeys of how a small bit of initiative in an organisation can impact so positively on everybody involved, be they a participant, coach, parent, employee or sponsor. A lot of the stories that come from the applicants and organisations are incredibly inspiring, moving and motivating.
Do you have any advice for the applicants?
The application itself does not take long, so try to give as much information and detail as you can. You can complete the application and then send on supporting materials afterwards if you feel these would strengthen your application.
This year we have also included a ‘nomination’ element to the awards, whereby somebody can contact us here at CARA and inform us of an organisation or person that they feel should apply or is worthy of recognition. Many of this year’s applicants have been nominated and we will certainly welcome more nominations and applications in the coming week.