Participation in sports has many benefits, including physical benefits such as improving cardiovascular health and stamina, reducing stress levels and improving sleep. Depending on the sport you are doing, you can also improve certain skills such as speed, accuracy, flexibility and hand-eye coordination. Sports clubs are also a great way to socialise and meet new people. Picking up a new sport can also enable you to develop personally by helping you to get out of your comfort zone. People with disabilities can find it harder to participate in sport, which means that we miss out on all the benefits they have to offer. This could be down to having a physical disability such as being in a wheelchair, which can prevent students from participating in certain sports if the appropriate supports are not in place. Those with intellectual disabilities can find it harder to learn, whilst those with sensory disabilities, such as visual impairment or being hard of hearing can also struggle to participate. Some students may also find it difficult to join a sport club due to issues such as social anxiety and sensory overload, from noise for example.
Trinity has a number of initiatives in place in order to help increase participation in sport for students with disabilities, including the presence of Inclusion Officers on the committees of many sports clubs, who work to make their club as inclusive as possible. DU Fencing Club provides wheelchair fencing sessions specifically for wheelchair users. The Ability Co-Op is also currently working on organising inclusive GAA training sessions, which will be starting soon. Earlier this year, the Ability Co-Op also introduced their ‘Towards Inclusive Clubs and Societies Project’, which aims to aid clubs and societies in becoming more accessible and inclusive to students with disabilities. In order to achieve this, the project includes a checklist that societies and clubs can utilise to see how inclusive their club is and what can be improved on. There are also guidelines provided as well as training videos in order to provide committee members with the skills necessary to achieve more inclusivity in their sport.
The Ability Co-Op also recently ran a survey to see what students would like to see introduced in order to increase inclusion in sports. According to this survey, students feel that clubs need more funding, provision of more sports wheelchairs, and increasing awareness and visibility around sport, aimed specifically at students with disabilities. These sort of initiatives from the Ability Co-Op are very important, as it gives students with disabilities a chance to have a say on what we would like to see introduced in Trinity, and it is up to the college, DUCAC and individual clubs to put these into place to allow everyone to participate fully in sport.
There are 50 different sports clubs in Trinity, so there is something for everyone to try out, regardless of personal interest or ability. Clubs are very important for students’ socially and participating brings a myriad of benefits. Our clubs are becoming more and more inclusive all the time, so I would encourage absolutely everyone to come along and have a go, you never know what sport you will in love with.