Disability Services Receive National Awards for Encouraging Active Healthy Lifestyles
Staff and individuals from Disability Services all over Ireland were presented with special award trophies at the Active Disability Services Awards at Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park on Thursday 31st March. Awards were presented for specific physical activity programmes, management teams, key workers and active service users. There were also special recognition awards presented to people who work in disability services who go above and beyond to include active healthy practices.
The event, presented by Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland in partnership with the HSE and Sport Ireland and sponsored by Hyundai Ireland, was a celebration of how people within disability services across Ireland prioritise, encourage, facilitate and create physical activity programmes and healthy lifestyle initiatives for people with disabilities especially over the past two years. After an open call for entries, the judging panel selected the final winners who were then invited to come along to receive their awards and share their stories.
Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers joined Disability Equality Activist, Jacqui Browne on stage with host Matt Cooper for a discussion on creating opportunities for people with disabilities to be more physically active in their services and local communities and also about the true meaning of inclusion in sport and physical activity. “You can participate, you can play, you can be a spectator and supporter, so we need to think about inclusion at so many levels” says Jacqui Browne. “My key message would be to use your own voice, don’t be afraid to speak up saying what you need to participate”. When asked about funding Minister Jack Chambers explained “I’m passionate about trying to bridge the participation gaps for people with disabilities through additional funding and the Sport For All initiative, which will be developed this year, is all about inclusion and trying to connect additional opportunities to participate”.
CEO of Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland Niamh Daffy said that the event was “a special celebration in so many ways. While offering a long-awaited opportunity to reconnect with our colleagues and partners, this awards ceremony allowed us to shine the spotlight on the commitment of passionate people within disability services who go above and beyond in advocating for, supporting and empowering people with disabilities to have equal opportunities in leading an active and healthy lifestyle. We would like to thank everyone who engaged with the awards process and congratulate all finalists and winners.”
The award winners were then announced by the judges and special guests. Among the winners were Anthony Mullen from Brothers of Charity Services, Galway and Roscommon, who received the Active Champion award for being a role model for other service users to be active and healthy. He said he was very happy to win and was going to give his trophy to his mother. Maeve Lynch from CoAction West Cork picked up the People Make Places award for her dedication and commitment to including physical activity and healthy lifestyles for service users. The Lifetime Service award was presented to Terence McSweeney of Cope Foundation, Cork, in recognition of his passion for including physical activity and healthy practices throughout his 40 years of service.
Shelly Breslin from St. John of Gods, Tallaght, won the Active Service Key Worker award and Best Community Engagement Programme went to KARE Kildare for their Enjoy Tennis programme. There were huge cheers and excitement from the residents of Moville Residential Group Home who travelled form Donegal to receive the Outstanding Community Disability Service award.
The Active Disability Services Awards have been developed to recognise and reward people within Disability Services throughout Ireland who have shown leadership and commitment to helping people with disabilities stay active and healthy. The awards highlight the commitment of staff, management, and individuals with disabilities as well as highlighting the programmes which have a focus on encouraging and supporting service users to participate in physical activity and healthy practices.
During the global pandemic restrictions, creating opportunities to be active became a challenge. In response, many disability services, and the people who work in this sector, adapted in how they delivered programmes for physical activity. Many of these have continued to be delivered, which has shown commitment from services to ensure physical activity remained an important part of the daily lives of people with disabilities.
The Winners Are …
|Active Champion||Anthony Mullen – Brothers of Charity Services – West Region, Galway/Roscommon|
|Active Service Key Worker||Shelly Breslin – St John of Gods Service, Tallaght, Dublin|
|Active Service Management Team||Kilbixy Paddocks, Galro, Longford|
|Active Service Volunteer||Noel Clyne – NLN Skillsbridge, Mullingar|
|Best Physical Activity Programme||Sports Centre APA Progeramme – Stewarts Care – Dublin|
|Best Outdoor Activity Programme||Patrick’s Hiking Programme, St. Patrick’s Centre – Kilkenny|
|Best Health Education Programme||Sport and Recreation Programme – AVISTA, St. Vincents Centre, Dublin|
|Best Community Engagement Programme||Enjoy Tennis – KARE Kildare|
|Outstanding Community Disability Service Award||Staff and Residents Moville RGH – Moville, Donegal|
|People Make Places Award||Maeve Lynch – CoAction, West Cork|
|Lifetime Service Award||Terence McSweeney – Cope Foundation, Cork|