A newly formed Special Olympics Club in County Derry are on the lookout for youth athletes to join their programme, which is planned to launch later this year.
The Oakleaf Lions will be only the second such club in Ulster, following the Titanic Tigers' formation last year.
“We are a group of Special Olympic volunteers and parents who are establishing a new Special Olympics club in the Oakleaf county delivering the Young Athlete programme,” read a statement on the club's Facebook page.
“It is all dependent on Covid-19, but we are hoping to get a taster day between September and Christmas,” said Brian McGuigan, who has been working with Liam Óg Hinphey on the venture.
“Then in the new year, we aim to have an hour session every week. At the minute, we are getting the word out there and are looking for athletes.”
The programme is a play and sport activity for children from four to eight years of age with an intellectual disability. It introduces children to a wide variety of play activities in a familiar, supportive and fun environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
It provides a flexible framework and versatile programme which can be successfully offered in a variety of settings from individual family home, to classrooms to community club settings - all designed as an introduction to fundamental movement skills.
The benefits of physical activity and play go beyond sports. The programme helps children interact with each other and develop communication, learning and self-help skills.
It also introduces children to the Special Olympics programme and their family members to a network of support as well as preparing children for future membership into Special Olympics clubs.
One of the long-term benefit of the programme is the opportunity to involve children with intellectual disabilities before they reach the age of eight. This will foster future involvement and hopefully participation in lifelong sport and physical activity.
If you are a parent with a child between four-eight with an intellectual disability or you want to give up some time to help out contact Brian (07912105673) or Maeve (07426031654).
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