The aim of the program, which was launched in 2008, is to inform students about the social and physical barriers experienced by people with disabilities.
The initiative allows students to explore different disabilities including physical, sensory, intellectual disability, and learning difficulties. The students identify and discuss societal barriers and obstacles towards people with disabilities.
To date 364 children have completed the course in five Clare secondary schools including St Flannan's College, Ennis Community College, Mary Immaculate Lisdoonvarna, St. Caimin's and Kildysart Community College.
The program was developed by two former Enable Ireland service users, James O'Donoghue and Ronan Kildea. The pair are now course tutors along with James Murrihy, the Clare Sports Partnership's Sports Inclusion Disability Officer.
Speaking about the aim of the Program, James O Donoghue said: "When you first arrive at a school students don't know what to expect when they see someone in a wheelchair but by the end of the program they see me for what I am and you are treated no different to anyone else".
Commenting on her school's participation in the Program Emma Slattery, PE Teacher at Mary Immaculate School Lisdoonvarna said: "The Transition Year students are provided with knowledge and skills to enhance their understanding of disabilities".
Student Aine Griffey said "The disability awareness program has opened my eyes and mind into the life of a person that has a disability".
The course is tailored to suit each school's needs lasting between 1 to 7 sessions and is delivered through mediums role plays, watching DVD's and activity worksheets. With the emphasis being on sport the students also learn about the Paralympics and Special Olympics, including what sports are played as well as the different classifications involved with each sport.
The course culminates with the students participating in disability sports such as wheelchair basketball and goal-ball among other sports.
"By actively taking part in disability sports the students have a greater admiration for disability participants in sport", explained Program tutor James Murrihy.
"When playing wheelchair basketball people have to push a wheelchair, bounce a ball and pass or shoot at the same time. Student participation in a sport like this shows them how much body strength is needed to play it at elite Paralympics level", he added.
Robert Hillery, student at Mary Immaculate Lisdoonvarna stated: "I didn't realize that people with disabilities compete at elite sporting events worldwide to such a high standard".
For further information on the program please contact James in the Clare Sports Partnership on firstname.lastname@example.org 065-6865434/087-9627696.
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