A GROUP in Dundrum is reflecting upon the success of a Sport for All project which has provided activities for children with special needs.
For the past three months a group of 15-plus volunteers have provided a safe place for the children to have fun and play every Saturday morning at Dundrum GAA. Eamonn Murphy was the organiser and he explained how successful it has been. “One parent told me that this was the first time that she was at something that was actually all inclusive,” he said.
The group started after Eamonn noticed the project taking place in other areas. “I saw it happening in a couple of clubs, and I was looking at it and thought that there was nothing like it around here. “We decided to try and start a Sport for All for children with special needs this year after getting some information about the initiative from the GAA. “We advertised on our Facebook page and got some help from the local Sacred Heart School. “They put us in contact with the Knockevin School where we left in flyers with a start date of 3 June for children between the ages of five and 15. “On 3 June we had eight children and, through word of mouth after parents saw what we had to offer, we now have 21 children registered.” Knockevin caters for children with severe learning disabilities and many of their pupils were keen to take part in well organised, inclusive projects such as this one.
The group also benefitted from help from the local community. Philip Patterson, from the Dundrum Inn, sponsored tops for the kids and his support has been important. The Dundrum Sport for All group provides an allinclusive sporting experience which allowed the children to enjoy Gaelic, basketball, swing ball, skittles, a soft play area, and other fun activities in their own time and their own way. Parents and guardians could join in the fun also if they wished, with the emphasis being on fun and inclusivity. Eamonn explained that the project makes sure that all the children have fun. “It is getting them part of an initiative and giving them something to do and somewhere to go.”
Eamonn is a coach at Dundrum GAA club, where he is head of ladies football. He explained how the project has grown since June when it started. “The interest has gradually grown, to the point where they realise that it has great potential. “We started with eight kids. Then I kept getting messages about the Sport for All. “A lot of these kids are at different Knockevin schools. So the word of mouth was getting round and they were coming and joining in. “We ended up with 21 children.” He thinks they could accommodate even more children in the future. “It is something that hopefully will get bigger now that people can see what we are doing. “The club has backed it to the hilt. There are 15, if not more, volunteers. “Coaches are all vetted and have child protection. It is a great initiative. No one has come to me to say there is anything negative. “This is a very rewarding, fun and enjoyable experience to be part of. “It would not be possible without our coaches and helpers, who are dedicated and passionate about giving the children the best experience possible.” He added that they hope to make the project last longer throughout the year. “It will stop now because of the weather and the pitch will be out of action. It will start back next year when the weather starts to pick up. “We don’t have a hall to take it inside. We play at the pitch. “Next year we hope to have somewhere indoors where we could do it over the winter.” Anyone who would like more information about the Sport for All initiative in Dundrum can contact Eamonn on 07754737708.