Episode 3:

CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre (Ireland)

Date released: May 2011. Updated: January 2015, September 2017

Here, we profile the fabulous work of the CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre in Ireland. They are a world leading group of practitioners that are really making an impact, not just in Ireland, but across the world. Learn how they go about their business.

CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre

Hi and welcome to the first Inclusion Club Case Study.

Case Studies are where we profile the excellent work being done from around the world in the area of sport and disability.

Today’s Case Study comes from Ireland.

CARA Centre logo
It’s a great pleasure to introduce to you the work of the CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre in Ireland. We do not want to regurgitate information you can find on their website here but we do want to showcase a lot of the excellent work they do in providing opportunities in sport and physical recreation for people with disability.The CARA Centre is in the south-west of Ireland in Tralee and was established in 2007 with the support of the Irish Sports Council and the Institute of Technology, who house the actual Centre.

It is the brainchild of Pat Flanagan and managed by the brilliant Niamh Daffy with the assistance of the equally brilliant Education Manager Liam McDonough.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the CARA Centre on a couple of occasions and meeting up with Niamh and Liam and the network of Sport Inclusion Disability Officers (SIDOs) that run programs across the country as part of something called the National Network of Local Sports Partnerships.

The network of SIDOs is very impressive. There are currently 15 SIDOs working to increase opportunities for people with disabilities in mainstream activities and specific clubs and sport for people with disabilities.

The SIDOs are based in counties of Carlow, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dun Laoghaire, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick County, Limerick City, Mayo, Meath, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, South Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath.

We interviewed Niamh and Liam via Skype, especially for the this episode of The Inclusion Club.

You can watch these interviews below and download the transcripts underneath – this is especially useful if you are having problems with the Irish accent!! Just click on the images.

Interview transcript

Download the video transcripts

For this episode we asked the SIDOs from all over Ireland two questions:

1) What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to provide sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

and

2) What’s your biggest challenge in providing sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

Below are their responses – just click on each tab to see:

1) What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to provide sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

This is a very broad question!!! Depending on what , who , when and where –questions have to be taken into consideration.

Also that of what resources are at the disposal to those who be providing sport and physical activity would have to be taken into consideration.

Contacting the relevant organizations to get participants to provide the service to.

Having the relevant qualifications and training are also points to note
If one takes the question in trying to set up a club!!!!!

Without re-inventing the wheel the easiest thing to do would be to try and link with a mainstream club as there are already structures in place within the club.

This would save on a lot of time and resources for you as a provider.

2) What’s your biggest challenge in providing sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

The biggest challenge for me is the barrier that transport creates for individuals to attend disability sports sessions. If an able-bodied person wants to go down to their local pitch they can do so because its’ on their doorstep to participate-Obviously for an elite sport that person will have to travel big distances.

However if a person with a disability wants to participate (outside of being part of a day-time service user of a disability organization) they need to travel a big distance just to take part. This can be overcome when there is support from family and friends however this is not always the case particularly in rural settings and dealing with wheelchair users.

1) What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to provide sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

Persistence is key. It takes time to convince those that are not already active of the Benefits of Physical Activity and that those benefits are for them as well as the so called ABs!

Also, ‘Come and Try’ multiple activity days are ok but I found it better to focus on one sport/activity (after first establishing some interest for it) at a time. Especially in a locality where numbers are low anyway, providing too many options can result in nothing getting off the ground.

2) What’s your biggest challenge in providing sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

One of the hardest things is to locate those people that are not attending a day centre or are not availing of some kind of service from the local health board. There are a lot of people who would fall into this group. Advertising through the various media options i.e. website, local papers, radio etc doesn’t seem to reach that many. ‘Word of Mouth’ has usually worked out to be the best way of increasing numbers in the majority of activities we run.

1) What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to provide sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

Ensure you engage with the individuals assess their interests and their needs. Provide activities which they want to participate in and that they enjoy. Gain their trust, once you have a reputation for being good at what you do and provide quality programmes other agencies and individuals will join.

2) What’s your biggest challenge in providing sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

Encouraging and motivating new people to take part. You can provide the most accessible programmes in the world but sometimes have very little uptake. It requires continued persistence and engagement with participants and their families/carers.

1) What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to provide sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

Ensure to find out what they are interested in doing and what they would like to take part in, assess the participants ability to insure that the activity is suitable for their level so that they gain enjoyment and fun out of it rather than being frustrated at not being able to do it.

2) What’s your biggest challenge in providing sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

I find that some participants feel that they are not capable of taking part in some of the activities but its important to encourage each participant to give it

1) What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to provide sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

When looking to provide activities it’s important to be practical and think of ways of using existing equipment you have at your use. Sports and activities don’t need to be different and new, it’s important to find ways of adapting existing activities. Also if you provide a quality service first time people will come back for more.

2) What’s your biggest challenge in providing sport and/or physical activity for people with disabilities?

Engaging with people with a disability and encouraging those with a physical or sensory disability to take part in sport and physical activity as very often the focus is on specific disability such as individuals with an intellectual disability. In a nut shell, changing mindsets!

Just to give you an idea of the types of programs the SIDOs run, go and visit the CARA website and subscribe to their newsletter – this really gives you a taste of the huge amount of work that is being done across the country by the SIDOs. 

CARA Website

Visit the CARA Centre and check out their newsletter

That’s it for this episode.

We hope you enjoyed this case study on the CARA Centre. If you think you might have your own case study that you’d like to showcase here – then please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

Until next time.

Episode

About the author: Peter Downs

About the author: Peter Downs

Founding Director - The Inclusion Club

Peter is Founding Director of The Inclusion Club and Manager of Play by the Rules – a national initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. Peter has worked for over 25 years in the field of inclusive sport, disability sport and physical activity including 17 years managing the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit.  In 2013 Peter was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship to study models of best practice in inclusive sport and physical activity.