In 2003, the Institute of Technology, Tralee in conjunction with the Irish Sports Council hosted the first ever Adapted Physical Activity Conference in Ireland. This was followed by a second APA conference in 2005 which focused on practical ways of improving service provision in Ireland. It was at this conference that the merits of the CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre and the Sports Inclusion Disability Officer (SIDO) programme were first aired. The SIDO programme concept was based on a model of national coordination which was working effectively in Wales and of local provision which was evident in the success in Co Laois, where the local sports partnership had appointed a disability sports officer to focus on increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate at local level in sport and physical activity.
From the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2008, 20 Local Sports Partnerships across the country appointed a Sports Inclusion Disability Officer. A sum of two million euro was earmarked through An Pobail - Dormant Accounts for this two year national programme to address the imbalance in opportunities available to people with a disability to participate in sport and physical activity. The Irish Sports Council provided funding to establish the Cara Centre to provide supports to the Sports Inclusion Disability network.
The opportunities to participate in a variety of sports and physical activity opportunities were made available through the programme. The benefits of participation were evident and in a report completed by The CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre Ltd, within that two year period over 4521 individuals with disabilities engaged in the Sports Inclusion Disability Programme.
Now five years on, the Irish Sports Council (ISC) has committed to supporting the developments of sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities into the future. From 2010 the Irish Sports Council approved 50% funding, in excess of €400,000, towards the development of the Sport Inclusion Disability Officer Programme. This funding allowed for the continuation of the work of Sports Inclusion Disability Officer in 19 Local Sports Partnership (LSP) sites for 2010 to 2011. (Please refer to Appendix 1 for list of LSP sites)
The ISC has also made an additional fund available to non SIDO LSPs to develop sport for people with a disability within their county. The Irish Sports Council also provides funding in conjunction with the Institute of Technology, Tralee to the CARA National Adapted Physical Activity Centre Ltd for the next three years. The CARA APA Centre Ltd will continue to lead, support and coordinate developments for the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport, physical activity and PE throughout Ireland. This encompasses support to all Local Sports Partnerships in their developments within the Sports Inclusion Disability Programme.
Currently, every Local Sports Partnership throughout Ireland has a remit to assist with and support developments for the inclusion for people with a disability in sport and physical activity in their county. This has lead to the strengthening of the Sports Inclusion Disability Programme in becoming a national programme focused upon by all Local Sports Partnerships.
In 2010, a new steering committee was established for the National Sports Inclusion Disability Programme. Members on this committee represent a range of organisations including Special Olympics Ireland, Irish Sports Council, Local Sports Partnerships, CARA Centre/IT Tralee, Football Association of Ireland, Paralympic Council of Ireland, Irish Wheelchair Association, Cerebral Palsy Sport Ireland and Disability Federation of Ireland. The objectives of the programme were re-evaluated and consultation with all parties resulted in a new series of actions being developed to guide all Local Sports Partnerships on the delivery of the Sports Inclusion Disability Programme within their county. For more information contact your local Sport Inclusion Disability Officers.