The Irish Rugby Football Union and the CARA National Adapted Physical Activity Centre, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality, today launched the Xcessible Youth Sport Initiative ‘Special Schools Tag Rugby’.
The Xcessible Youth Sport Initiative is a three-year national focused initiative aimed at increasing the participation of children with disabilities in physical activity and sport.
Officially launched by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality and Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with special responsibility for Equality, New Communities and Culture) at the Aviva Stadium, the Special Schools Tag Rugby will give children with intellectual disabilities opportunities to participate in rugby at a local level through a school-club link development.
The Special Schools Tag Rugby game will be implemented on a weekly basis within Special Schools and with cooperation from the IRFU, the Local Sports Partnership Sports Inclusion Disability Programme, Irish Special Schools Sports Council and local rugby clubs.
This exciting initiative will open new sport and participation opportunities for children with disabilities with a focus on participating in the adapted version of Tag Rugby at club and school levels.
One of the aims of the initiative is to facilitate links between National Governing Bodies of Sport, Local Sports Partnerships, Schools and Disability Organisations in order to facilitate easy access and choice for children with disabilities in physical activity and sport.
Minister O Riordan said: “I am delighted to launch the Xcessible Youth Sport Initiative, such programmes model for all of us how making a commitment to inclusion and a new way or approaching our activities can have an immense impact on making sport and physical activity accessible for all.”
To further enhance the sustainability of the Special Schools Tag Rugby, over 100 IRFU staff have completed the National Disability Inclusion Training coordinated by the CARA Centre.
Michael Gilroy, Training and Education Coordinator for CARA, commented: “Delivery of our six-hour course on Disability Inclusion Training to the development staff (100+) within the IRFU is a great starting point for any organisation who are looking to become more inclusive of children and adults with disabilities.”
Scott Walker, IRFU Director of Rugby Development, added: “The IRFU’s values promote rugby as an inclusive sport and our partnership with CARA will open the game up to more people and increase the number of kids engaging in physical activity and enjoying the fun and other benefits rugby can deliver.
“We are pleased that 11 clubs have already signed up to the eight-week CARA programme, and while many of these clubs had already engaged in disability rugby programmes we hope that the new school-club link can deliver more sustainable opportunities for kids with disabilities to experience and enjoy Tag rugby with the local rugby club.”
Patron for the initiative, Joanne Cantwell (RTE Sports presenter), was also at the Aviva Stadium and said: “How fitting it is giving that the Rugby World Cup is on this year and the high hopes we all have for the Ireland team that the Xcessible Inclusive Youth Sport Initiative is now including the sport of rugby and giving everyone a chance to take part in this great team sport.”
The initiative will be taking place from January 19 to April 10, 2015.