Derry City and Strabane District Council this week launched a new scheme with Disability Sport NI to help make sport more accessible for people with a disability.
The District Council Disability Sports Hub Project, funded by the Department for Communities through Sport NI, will see all eleven Council areas in Northern Ireland receiving disability sports equipment packs.
The packs which are worth close to £50,000 each, will include twelve sports wheelchairs, one rugby wheelchair, three track chairs, five hand cycles, four tandem bikes, three trikes, three boccia sets and one sensory activity pack.
The £500,000 project is part of the Active Living: No Limits 2021 Action Plan to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities in the North through participation in sport and active recreation.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, launched the scheme on Monday at the Foyle Arena where the full equipment pack was displayed and demonstrated and those in attendance heard from people with disabilities about how the equipment will impact their participation levels in sport.
“I am delighted to able to launch the Disability Sports Hub project which I hope will can play a central role in allowing more people with a disability to take part in sports activities,” he said.
“Encouraging higher levels of participation and proficiency in sport and recreational activities and delivering a sports development programme to promote greater activity by people with a disability have been identified as targets for Council’s Strategic Growth Plan and this programme can play a central role in that.”
Kevin O’Neill, Disability Sport NI’s Chief Executive said: “The establishment of a Disability Sports Hub in all eleven of our District Council areas is a real game changer for people with disabilities here. Disabled people are currently half as likely to participate in sport as non-disabled people and this initiative will make a huge difference in helping us get more people with disabilities active in every area of Northern Ireland.’
Through the District Council Disability Sports Hub Project, Disability Sport NI will be supporting the development of sustainable sports clubs including wheelchair basketball, goalball and multi-skills within each hub. This project will raise the visibility of disability sports opportunities and encourage more people with a disability to be active and be the best.
Fergus Devitt, Director of Active Communities at the Department for Communities said: “I am delighted that the Department is able to support the implementation of the disability sector’s ‘Active Living: No Limits’ Action Plan that seeks over the next 5 years to bring about positive change to the social, recreational and sporting life of people with disabilities.
“Our investment of £1m will increase opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sporting activities, to provide equipment for disability sports hubs in each Council area and also to enable access to several watersports venues and activities.
“It is important that we maintain this impressive start to our collective implementation of the Action Plan, to ensure the continued positive experiences of involvement and inclusion and to promote not only recreational enjoyment of sporting activity but potentially the development of our paralympic champions for the future.”
Sport Northern Ireland Chair George Lucas added: “Sport Northern Ireland warmly welcomes the launch of the new District Council Disability Sports Hubs. These hubs will help support local people with disabilities to enjoy all the physical, mental and social benefits of participation in sport and physical activity. We look forward to continuing to work with Disability Sport NI, the Department for Communities and our other partners, to implement the Active Living: No Limits Action Plan and deliver positive change to the social, recreational and sporting lives of people with disabilities across Northern Ireland.”
More information on Derry City and Strabane District Council’s leisure facilities are available at www.derrystrabane.com/leisure.