All of the schools involved in the activity challenge embraced the ‘inclusive’ theme of the week and many did extra artwork and projects.
A few examples were Rosenallis NS who invited Paddy Byrne, Sledge Hockey Gold Medallist with USA in the 2002 Winter Paralympics, to speak to the school and did projects on his story. Gaelscoil Thromaire did art and nature projects on their walk in the Slieve Blooms and Gaelscoil Phortlaoise even created their own “Haka Gaelach” which will be posted to view on their school website.
One of the schools had to be chosen as the eventual winner, a very difficult decision for the judges considering the efforts that schools had made. After much deliberation, St Patricks BNS in Portarlington emerged as winners. They carried out a dazzling range of fun and inclusive activities over the week involving pupils, teachers and parents (everything from “keepy uppy” to celí’s, mini leagues to Boccia tournaments) and had healthy eating cookery classes and sports quizzes.
The judges were impressed with the class projects, including ones on Special Olympics and Paralympics, but were particularly impressed with the one on inclusive games, where pupils used their imagination and ingenuity to create new games complete with drawings and rule books.
Garrett Culliton commenting on the initiative said that it was great to see so many students and teachers getting involved.
“From my point of view it was especially pleasing to see the schools really embrace the inclusive element of the challenge. Many people with disabilities are precluded from participating in sports activities and often it is simply because of a lack of understanding on the part of service and facility providers. The disability program is working to address the imbalance in opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in Sport and Physical Activity, through working in partnership with all stakeholders. Our policy is to develop and promote opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sport at a level of their choice. We encourage everyone to participate regardless of age, ability or disability”.