The resource centre in Claremorris provides individials of the community with a range of supports in an accessible, confidential, friendly, safe and respectful environment. This is invaluable, supporting the community through participation and self-empowerment. There they provide for the benefit of the community by targeting those in situations of greatest disadvantage and those who are most socially excluded in the community.
As part of a European Cultural Foundation’s Research and Devdlopmental grant Iam working on, I spoke to the a group of peers living with physical impairments at the resource centre about the importance of staying active and the options available out there to them. I wanted to aid the individuals themselves directly and their families to locate accessible sport and leisure opportunities close to home that suit their needs and abilities and match their preferences. It’s all about the cycle of conditioning: active individuals who stay active grow stronger and more physically literate as they age. The cycle of deconditioning works the same way: for those who don’t participate, the less they do, the less they’re able to do.
By speaking to the group I also hoped to promote, support and facilitate a community development response to exclusion and disadvantage through the participation and involvement of local people, especially those recognised as excluded and in situations of disadvantage. Due to previous exclusion or limited access,people with disabilities are likely to experience the greatest benefits when they participate in physical activity.
The feedback I got from both the group and the staff at the centre was that they want to participate in the same sporting activities as their peers, in the communities where they live. However, they feel there is a need for coaches, staff and peers who are friendly and welcoming.
Now is time to move from knowledge to practice. There is a need for adapted community‐based health promotion programmes to ensure more equitable health for this cohort of the population.
Solutions on the ground are vitally important, but in my opinion we must also engage with policymakers and at the community level to address policies, procedures and practices that prevent those with disabilities from participating.