Newtown Blues weren’t the only winners on county final day at the Gaelic Grounds.
Since October 2015, Louth Coaching & Games in conjunction with the HSE’s Paediatric Physiotherapy Team have provided a specific ‘GAA 4 All’ Inclusive camp for children with in the Paediatric service from the County.
These camps were to address FUNdamental movement skills via Gaelic Games coaching. With the use of the fantastic facilities in DkIT Sport and the GAA’s Centre of Excellence in Darver the programmes aimed to provide expert coaching intervention in the same arenas that the children’s siblings would regularly get use of day in day out.
The Leinster GAA road show was also added to the programme and went down a treat with all the children and parents.
Over 70 children regularly participate in each of the mid-term and summer camps with many of these children experiencing Gaelic Games for the first time.
The Children who participated were aged between 5 and 18, all with varying abilities and limitations who currently access the Paediatric Physiotherapy services from both the Disability and Primary Care services within the county.
The camps have provided many significant psychological benefits gained from the positive peer and parental interaction. Many of the parents who attended with their children indicated the positive impact it had on their child and consequently on the whole family.
One parent highlighted: ‘It was really lovely seeing my child be able to play sports with the other children within the community setting.’ Another said: ‘I didn’t realise that the games could so be easily adapted to meet my child’s physical needs.’
One of the big highlights of the programme was the ‘Louth Legends’ Exhibition Game which took place at half-time during the recent county final between Newtown Blues and Naomh Mairtin.
In a break with local tradition, the group that took the field didn’t come from either of the participating finalists. The group had been put together with the view of taking part in something different. Participants had to commit to a six-week programme that would finish with the exhibition game.
The players had honed their skills with GDA’s Michael Keane and Sean Hand alongside the Paediatric Physiotherapy Team at DkIT Sports magnificent indoor arena in preparation for the game.
The game itself didn’t disappoint either, with plenty of goalmouth action along with some fine kicked scores from distance. Not to forget the goal celebrations and penalty save at the death.
In the words of one onlooker: ‘To see the joy on the faces of those children was something else. It epitomised everything that is good in the GAA.’
With the volume of positive feedback from parents and other onlookers, it makes for an easy decision that Louth Coaching and Games continue collaborating with the HSE Paediatric Physiotherapy Staff to provide more inclusive opportunities for these children in the future.