Trinity recently became one of the first Universities in Ireland to sign the Cara Sport Disability Charter and commit to its mission. By signing this charter, Trinity Sport is making promises to reevaluate its programmes and facilities so as to be more inclusive to those with disabilities. The Cara Sport Disability Charter outlines five key areas for organisations to improve on to better meet the needs of those with disabilities. These areas are openness, people, activities, facilities and promotion.
The charter asks sports organisations like Trinity Sport to be open and understanding of people with disabilities, train staff and volunteers on how to facilitate the inclusion of all people, develop and deliver inclusive activities, review facilities and equipment in order to be more accessible and promote the inclusive nature of activities outlined in the charter. The Cara Sport Disability Charter is the first of its kind in Ireland as it is entirely specific to the participation of people with disabilities in sport and physical activity. The charter looks for places like Trinity which has a reach in the community to spread its message and to help set an example for inclusiveness for all peoples. Ultimately, the goal is to remove barriers that those with disabilities face in participating in sports and other physical activities.
Head of Sport and Recreation at Trinity, Michelle Tanner commented, “We are delighted to sign the Cara Sport Inclusion Disability Charter and pledge our commitment to listen to the needs of people with disabilities. Our commitment is already evident through the introduction of the ‘Sport and Physical Activity Inclusion Officer’, which is an important role focusing on inclusion and ensuring that Trinity Sport is a place which provides support, access and opportunities to all, irrespective of ability, race, background, status, gender or otherwise.”
This new position of Sport and Physical Activity Inclusion Officer was created last year and is the first of its kind in an Irish University setting. Naz Velic, a Technological University Dublin Sport Management and Coaching graduate, currently occupies the role and has the full support of the Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC) here at Trinity. Velic is working to not only honour the charter in increasing inclusion of those with disabilities, but all people who have experienced exclusion in sport including those that are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Trinity Sport has pushed for more female participation and is hoping to apply the principles of the Cara Sport Inclusion Charter to females as well.
“It’s fantastic to see Trinity Sport putting resources, energy and time into creating an environment welcoming to all, one where all members of our community can engage in sport and physical activity. Sport can and should play an important role in equality and inclusion. I’m delighted to see Trinity Sport taking these important steps, such as committing to the Cara Sport Inclusion Disability Charter and creating a ‘Sport and Physical Activity Inclusion Officer’ role,” said Clodagh Brook, Associate Vice Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Trinity.
As the charter outlines, sport and physical activity are central to life and even more so when most other activities are closed during Level 5 restrictions. All people have the right to be active in their local communities, including those with disabilities. The Cara Sport Disability Charter was created by surveying 140 people across 22 counties who were both physically active and inactive to see what their challenges, experiences and needs were in relation to participating and engaging in sporting activities in their communities. This is how the five key areas to foster inclusiveness were identified and are the foundation of the charter.
In a time when it is so easy to feel isolated, it is important to have programmes like those that Trinity Sport offers in order to feel a part of the community. We are all in this together and being tried in our own ways, so let’s use this opportunity to make Trinity a more welcoming and inclusive place to those who have disabilities.