A new online platform has been launched to help promote sport and active recreation opportunities for disabled people across Northern Ireland.
Called Active Living: No Limits, the new service looks to empower disabled people to explore opportunities that will allow them to become more active in a way that suits them best.
It also aims to provide a central hub where health professionals, district councils, national governing bodies of sport, as well as local clubs and groups can promote their regular inclusive and disability-specific sports and active recreation opportunities.
The online platform addresses growing concerns surrounding the decline in local community sport opportunities for disabled people in Northern Ireland, particularly exacerbated by the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research indicates a notable reduction in disabled participation in sport over the past four years, making disabled individuals in Northern Ireland only half as likely to engage in sports compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
Speaking at the launch, Emer Morelli, Deputy Secretary for Engaged Communities Group, Department for Communities said: “Active Living No Limits is a fantastic resource and online platform which will provide key information on events and opportunities for people with a disability to get involved in sport and physical activity.
“The Sport and Physical Activity Strategy for Northern Ireland ‘Active Living’ aims to get more people, more active, more of the time, with a specific focus on under-represented groups including those with a disability.
“A more active life can contribute to improved physical and mental health for individuals and increased social contact within communities. The Active Living No Limits website will empower people with a disability and help them access a range of suitable opportunities for them to get active.
“The Department continues to support the Active Living No Limits forum and Disability Sport NI as they work towards equality of opportunity for all to participate in sport and physical activity.”
The platform is extension of the The Active Living: No Limits forum, which is made up of governmental departments and organisations within the disability and sports sectors including Department for Communities, Department of Education, Department of Health, Public Health Agency, Disability Sport NI, Sport NI, Special Olympics Ulster, NI Sports Forum, Disability Action, Blind Sports Network and Northern Ireland Deaf Sports.
Through collaboration, the forum develops sustainable, active recreation opportunities while also supporting activity providers to remove barriers to participation and create meaningful local experiences for disabled people.
Kevin O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Sport NI said: “Activelivingnolimits.co.uk is an exciting platform that will help promote meaningful opportunities for disabled people to access both mainstream and disability sports clubs, as well as inclusive active recreation opportunities.
“The 2021 census has shown that the percentage of people in Northern Ireland who have a disability or long-term health condition has grown to one in four of the population. It is therefore vital that we continue to address the underrepresentation of disabled people in sport and active recreation with initiatives like this.”