Eleven people completed the Inclusive Volunteering in Sport Programme, Vol INC, that was rolled out by Donegal Sports Partnership.
Dedicated to building the capacity of volunteers in the area of inclusion and disability sport, Vol INC is the first programme of its kind in the North West. The new concept commenced in March and concluded in July.
Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with Donegal Sports Partnership, Thérèse Laverty, said Vol INC complements the work of the Sports Inclusion Disability Programme (SIDP) which has been operating under the umbrella of Donegal Sports Partnership since 2008.
“The main aim of Vol INC was to encourage, motivate and build the capacity of volunteers in the provision of inclusive sport, creating an environment where everyone is welcomed irrespective of ability,” she commented.
“The initiative, coordinated by Hugh Carlin, Donegal Sports Partnership’s Development Officer for Special Projects and Diversity, has had very positive feedback and volunteers have communicated their enjoyment of participation. We hope that this inspires more clubs and volunteers to continue to strive for inclusion, making regular participation opportunities in sports more available for everyone,” Thérèse added.
The programme schedule was always flexible for the group, which was made up of parents, volunteers, and coaches, and this flexibility contributed greatly to its success. An extremely interactive WhatsApp group was established for the participants and the group continues to act as a forum for regular updates. Participants took part in a number of interactive training and education workshops delivered by the National Governing Bodies of Sport and Donegal Sports Partnership tutors. Workshops included FUN Moves, FAI Football for All, Balance Bike Training, Safeguarding, First Aid, Personal Development, CARA Autism in Sport, and Disability Inclusion Training Workshops.
“All participants enjoyed participating in the Vol INC Programme, all participants felt that participation would help in their work, coaching and volunteering role and all participants indicated that they would participate in further education and training with the Donegal Sports Partnership,” Thérèse said.
Commenting on the Vol INC programme, Donegal Sports Partnership’s Development Officer for Special Projects and Diversity, Hugh Carlin, said it brought together participants from a variety of backgrounds such as parents, volunteers and sports coaches.
“This created a very diverse and enthusiastic group dynamic, where everyone could share their past experiences and enhance the learning for all. This, coupled with the very experienced and knowledgeable tutors from NGB’s, DSP and other organisations, made the programme very informative for all participants. I’d like to commend the group on their level of engagement and application – it remained very high throughout the duration of the project as they built their capacities to deliver and volunteer in disability sport. Hopefully, we’ll see them delivering and volunteering at future events,” he said.
Ronan Molloy, a volunteer with Donegal Down Syndrome Ability Counts who was one of the eleven to complete Vol INC, said he was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the initiative.
“I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience from all the courses and now feel I am better equipped to help as a volunteer and coach. I would like to thank the staff in Donegal Sports Partnership for their time and dedication throughout the programme,” he added.
John Byrne, who also completed the Vol INC, said: “It was one of the best programmes I have ever done. It was run with all tutors delivering each module in a fun and professional manner where participation was key to the learning process. Donegal Sports Partnership, through their coordinator Hugh Carlin, was engaging and accommodating at all times. I look forward to seeing what is next to come from Donegal Sports Partnership.”
If anyone is interested in volunteering in the area of disability sports can contact Donegal Sports Partnership on 074 91 16078.