A plan to help people with disabilities realise their sporting dreams

Communities Minister Paul Givan MLA. Picture: Michael Cooper

Communities Minister Paul Givan MLA. Picture: Michael Cooper

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I recently launched the ‘Active Living- No Limits’ Action Plan that seeks to bring about positive change to the social, recreational and sporting life of people with disabilities and consequently to our entire community.

I was privileged to launch this action plan at a Paralympian fun day where I met with incredibly inspiring children who were participating in a range of sports.

An initial investment of £300,000 to support the implementation of the action plan will help provide equipment across all District Council areas and will have an immediate impact on improving access to recreational activities for those with disabilities in Northern Ireland.

The energy and abilities of all the participants was very powerful. The young people who are engaging in sports and that have a disability should in no way be disadvantaged. They have goals, dreams and aspirations to succeed in sport; to be active in sport and it is vital that we mainstream that within our sporting structures. For too long, society has looked at what people can’t do rather than what they can do.

The development of this action plan which will be implemented by the sector sets a challenging goal of making disability sport a key priority for the next five years. This ambitious yet realistic plan is about how we will increase active opportunities for disabled people here and break down the barriers to sporting success and recreational enjoyment.

Through this plan we want to build on the legacy of those with disabilities who have excelled in their chosen sport at Rio. Our impressive Paralympians have set a very high standard and I acknowledge the excellent example given by Michael McKillop, Bethany Firth, Jason Smyth, Katie Morrow, Clare Taggart and Phillip Eaglesham and others who were excellent sporting ambassadors for their chosen sports.

Active lifestyles bring about improved health and well-being, a greater sense of equality of choice and consistency of accessible activities and sporting facilities; and even more importantly the key goal, ‘No Limits’ in pursuing sport and active recreation.

This goal can be achieved if we work together. An ongoing partnership approach is the key to lasting success.

• Paul Givan MLA is Minister for Communities