Disability Sport NI today launched the District Council Disability Sports Hub Project in Northern Ireland funded by the Department for Communities through Sport NI. This £500,000 project is part of the Active Living: No Limits 2021 Action Plan to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities in Northern Ireland through participation in sport and active recreation.

All eleven district council areas in Northern Ireland have received disability sports equipment packs including twelve sports wheelchairs, one rugby wheelchair, three track chairs, five hand cycles, four tandem bikes, three trikes, three boccia sets and one sensory activity pack.

Pictured left to right, George Lucas from Sport NI, Jack Agnew Wheelchair Athlete, Fergus Devitt from the Department for Communities, Claire Taggart Rio Paralympian, Kevin O'Neill from Disability Sport NI and Dr Janet Gray from Disability Sport NI.

At today’s launch Disability Sport NI, the Department for Communities, Sport Northern Ireland and each of the council areas were joined by representatives from other government departments, sporting organisations, sports governing bodies and disability charities. The Belfast council’s full equipment pack was displayed and used for sports demonstrations and there was an opportunity to hear from people with disabilities about how the equipment will impact their participation levels in sport.

Kevin O’Neill, Disability Sport NI’s Chief Executive said,

“The establishment of a Disability Sports Hub in all eleven of our District Council areas is a real game changer for people with disabilities here. Disabled people are currently half as likely to participate in sport as non-disabled people and this initiative will make a huge difference in helping us get more people with disabilities active in every area of Northern Ireland.’

Through the District Council Disability Sports Hub Project, Disability Sport NI will be supporting the development of sustainable sports clubs including wheelchair basketball, goalball and multi-skills within each hub. This project will raise the visibility of disability sports opportunities and encourage more people with a disability to be active and be the best.

Fergus Devitt, Director of Active Communities at the Department for Communities said: “I am delighted that the Department is able to support the implementation of the disability sector’s ‘Active Living: No Limits’ Action Plan that seeks over the next 5 years to bring about positive change to the social, recreational and sporting life of people with disabilities.

“Our investment of £1m will increase opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sporting activities, to provide equipment for disability sports hubs in each Council area and also to enable access to several watersports venues and activities.

“It is important that we maintain this impressive start to our collective implementation of the Action Plan, to ensure the continued positive experiences of involvement and inclusion and to promote not only recreational enjoyment of sporting activity but potentially the development of our paralympic champions for the future.”

Sport Northern Ireland Chair George Lucas added,

“Sport Northern Ireland warmly welcomes the launch of the new District Council Disability Sports Hubs. These hubs will help support local people with disabilities to enjoy all the physical, mental and social benefits of participation in sport and physical activity. We look forward to continuing to work with Disability Sport NI, the Department for Communities and our other partners, to implement the Active Living: No Limits Action Plan and deliver positive change to the social, recreational and sporting lives of people with disabilities across Northern Ireland.”