Photo credit: Mountmellick Gymnastics Club.
A focus on inclusivity at a Laois gymnastics club means a new outlet for play and exercise for children with disabilities in the county.
Coaches and instructors at Mountmellick Gymnastics Club have upskilled with a GymAble course which focuses on including people of all abilities in their activities.
The inclusion project is run by Gymnastics Ireland and teaches a module focused on disability awareness. It covers terminology, barriers, supports, advice and more.
Mountmellick Gymnastic Club wants ‘anyone with any kind of disability’ to go along to the GymAble open day and learn more about how everyone can be included in gymnastics. This includes people in wheelchairs, with Autism Spectrum Disorder, those who are hard of hearing or with any disability.
The club, which was founded in 2012 and has around 300 members, will host the open day on Wednesday, August 15 from 5pm to 8pm to get more people with different abilities involved. Michelle Murphy is a coach at Mountmellick Gymnastics Club.
“Some children with disabilities will be able for mainstream classes but we will do specific classes too. We have some long term children who use sign language, we use a shorthand sign language and we will be taking more classes.
“We are trying to get people in to do the movements, have a look around and to get feedback from parents. There are a lot of people around the county looking for a place to bring their kids.
“Gymnastics is trying to be all about inclusion now. Certain skills have to be modified but just because someone is not able for mainstream classes does not mean they are not capable," she said.
The club has already seen demand for more inclusive fun and exercise for children. Coaches have done classes with Laois Sports Partnership with different types of sports and activities to have something for everyone.
“It is all about getting active and some people forget that some kids need a bit of extra support.
“I met a lovely bunch of kids in Ballacolla recently with Down Syndrome and they absolutely loved dancing. People have a certain range of movements based on their disabilities, it is great for parents to see them having fun and exercising,” she said.
Mountmellick Gymnastics Club is a non-profit club that has received different funding over the years to grow into the facility it is today, at the Bay Road, Mountmellick. The club’s motto is “your only limitation is your imagination”.
“There is no point having this facility and not offering it to everybody,” Michelle added.
To find out more about the GymAble open day, visit the Mountmellick Gymnastic Club Facebook page here.