To celebrate International Day for People with Disabilities on Friday 3rd December 2021, we produced and broadcasted the Cara Live:Cast titled ‘I’m In Too – My Choice To Be Active’. Hosted by Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland, in association with Sport Ireland and the HSE, this online broadcast included interviews, panel discussions and personal stories from a host of special guests.
We were really excited to be broadcasting this event, with a full production crew, live from RTÉ’s Studio 5, where we were joined by our incredible presenters, Joanne Cantwell and Daráine Mulvihil.
Joanne Cantwell is an Irish sports presenter. She is the presenter of weekly rugby magazine programme Against the Head on RTÉ Two, and was also a match reporter on Premier Soccer Saturday. During the summer months, Joanne works as a reporter on The Sunday Game, Raidió Teilifís Éireann’s main Gaelic games television programme. It is shown on RTÉ Two every Sunday during the Football Championship and Hurling Championship seasons. Joanne is also a valued ambassador for Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland.
Daráine Mulvihill is a television Researcher, Presenter and Reporter, who has worked with RTÉ, BBC and Channel 4. At the age of 16, she lost both her legs below the knee and all of her fingers after contracting an aggressive strain of meningitis and septicaemia. After spending a full year recovering in hospital, Daráine learned how to walk again with prosthetic limbs and returned to school a few months later.
In 2001, Daráine received an Irish Person of the Year Award and in 2004 she was appointed to the Irish Council of State by President Mary McAleese. She graduated from DCU in 2005 with a BA in Communication Studies and obtained a Postgraduate Degree in Communications through Irish from NUIG the following year.
Daráine began working in RTÉ in 2006 as a tv researcher and reporter and in 2012 she presented Channel 4’s Paralympic Morning Show along with Olympian Jonathon Edwards. She has worked on a variety of Paralympic events for Channel 4, including their coverage of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, World Athletic Championships and European Championships. In 2016 Daráine co-presented coverage of BBC’s Invictus Games from Orlando with Gabby Logan, and RTÉ ‘s coverage of the Rio Paralympic Games with Joanne Cantwell. She worked as a reporter on BBC NI’s Home Ground Programme and co-presented the 2017 Invictus Games from Toronto with Ade Adepitan. Daráine has always been a passionate advocate for meningitis and vaccination awareness and for normalising the conversation around disability. Daráine has most recently presented live coverage of the 2020 Paralympic Games for RTÉ.
The broadcast was full of great learning and sharing whilst highlighting and discussing areas of importance in sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities in Ireland. We heard personal stories from people with disabilities about their experiences of being active. The event was a morning full of engaging stories and conversations on the future of active participation in physical activity and sport for people with disabilities.
This event is designed with the following audience in mind:
- People with disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities
- Disability Service managers and staff
- Professionals across the health, education, outdoor, sport, fitness and leisure sectors.
- National Governing Bodies of Sport managers, development officers and coaches
- Local Sports Partnership coordinators, sports inclusion disability officers (SIDO) and sports development officers (SDO)
- Teachers and Special Needs Assistants
- Anyone with an interest in enhancing sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities.
I’m In Too: My Choice to Be Active
Guests were Mark Barry (Irish Wheelchair Association), Mei Lin, Nikki Bradley (The Motivation Factory) and Carol Brill (International DeafBlind Golfer) for a conversation as they shared their experiences of being active.
Physical Activity/Health: Achieving Healthy Lifestyles through Physical Activity
Guests were Rhian McCarroll (Cara), Aoife Ní Mhuirí (Salaso), Gerry Maguire (Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland), Chris Kane (Lean Ar Aghaidh Service, Rehab Care) and Chris Cassoni for a conversation on the importance of physical activity and fitness opportunities for people with disabilities, the challenges associated, and how we can support and encourage active and healthy lifestyles.
Outdoors: Accessing the Great Outdoors
Guests were Sarah Kerrigan (Trouble on a Peg Leg), Ciara Munnelly (Sport Ireland Outdoors), Deborah Foley (Carlow Sports Partnership), Tom Losey (Liquid Therapy) and Charlie Clay for a conversation on the benefits, challenges and opportunities for people with disabilities accessing the great outdoors.
National Perspective: I’m in Too – Where to from here?
Guests were Minister Annen Rabbitte, Minister Jack Chambers, Dr Una May (Sport Ireland) and Niamh Daffy (CEO, Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland). This session focused on the next steps and future direction of opportunities for people with disabilities to ensure that they are supported and empowered to lead active, healthy lifestyles.
The event included contributions from the following:
Nikki BradleyAdaptive Adventurer
Mark BarryIWA/National Rehabilitation Hospital Liaison Officer
Carol BrillIrish Blind Golf
Gerry MaguireCEO at Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland
Aoife Ní MhuiríPhysiotherapist, Founder of Salaso Health Solutions
Deborah FoleyActing Coordinator, Carlow Local Sports Partnership
Chris CassoniParticipant, Active Healthy Me
Tom LoseyManaging Director, Liquid Therapy
Rhian McCarrollTraining & Education Coordinator, Cara
Mei Lin Yap
Chris KaneProgramme Supervisor, Lean Ar Aghaidh Service, Rehab Care
Ciara MunnellySport Ireland Outdoors
Sarah KerriganTrouble On A Peg Leg
Nikki Bradley is an adaptive adventurer and one of Ireland’s leading female motivational speakers. She also works in sport as a development officer with Triathlon Ireland. Diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at aged 16 and surviving the rare and often deadly form of bone cancer, offered Nikki a unique opportunity to restart her life at a young age. She is the founder of ‘Fighting Fit For Ewing’s’, which aims to increase awareness about the disease as well as participating in physical challenges. The Donegal native attempted a Guinness World Record in Holland, tackled a route of the Solheimajokull glacier in Iceland, climbed The Sturrall in Donegal which is one of Ireland’s most outstanding sea cliffs and abseiled off it, completed the Fan Dance – a gruelling 24km trek through the snowy Brecon Beacons in Wales – all while relying on crutches. In July 2018, Nikki became the first crutch user to climb four Irish mountains on crutches in less than 32 hours and in 2019 she completed a summer half marathon and a monumental visit to Tanzania, Africa where she volunteered with suicide prevention organisation ALPS. Nikki is currently working with specialists on the next phase of her medical journey where she will likely face major surgery in 2022.
Mark became a member of IWA-Sport from the age of 7 with disability sport and inclusion playing a pivotal role in his life. Mark was a Paralympian from Barcelona ’92 competing in Wheelchair Racing. Mark was an International Wheelchair Basketball Player competing at 3 European Division C Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2009. He’s a graduate of Waterford IT studying Business Studies in Recreation and Leisure Management. Mark began work as National Sports Development Officer with IWA-Sport in April 2003 which involved creating opportunities for people with a physical disability to participate in Disability Sport and to create opportunities for them to reach their full potential. He moved to a new role within the organisation working as IWA/National Rehabilitation Hospital Liaison Officer from spring 2019. He was heavily involved in the 8th Annual NRH Sports Championships which spanned an entire week in early November 2021, for the first time ever including units from Spinal Cord Injury, Limb Absence and Acquired Brain Injury.
Carol Brill lives in Dublin with her young daughter. Since her diagnosis of Usher syndrome, she is an ardent patient advocate, working with many national and international charities and patient-led organisations for nearly 30 years. Carol is a Founder and Chair Director of Usher Syndrome Ireland, a non-profit organisation dedicated to advocating for the unique needs of those living with Usher Syndrome along with the aim of increasing collaboration and research for a cure or treatment. Usher syndrome is a rare genetic disease which causes the gradual deterioration in both sight and hearing.
Golf is Carol’s passion and has won international tournaments, with her most recent title as Scottish Disabled Golf’s British Open Stableford Champion. Not only does she love to play golf, but she loves to champion golf as a sport for all, regardless of ability or disability. She is proud to be the first ever Ambassador for Golf for Cara. She is a member of Stackstown Golf Club, and is on Golf Ireland’s National Committee for Disability and Inclusion. She has been a committee member of Irish Blind Golf and is now looking forward to her role with World Blind Golf, a fully inclusive organisation to be launched in January 2022.
Gerry has recently been appointed as Chief Executive Officer at Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland. Gerry formerly worked in the Department of Health and for the last five years as Special Advisor to the then Minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath.
Gerry is a sports junkie especially cricket and soccer, especially all things Chelsea! He would love to see more people with a disability becoming involved in sport to foster a spirit of both physical and psychological wellbeing. Author of “Walk Away and Forget Him” – his journey of living with Spina Bifida.
Aoife Ní Mhuirí
Aoife is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Founder of Salaso Health Solutions Ltd. She has over twenty years’ experience in treatment, management and rehabilitation services across a range of clinical areas including neurological rehabilitation, musculoskeletal treatment and community care. Her professional interests centre around patient empowerment and engaging patients with therapeutic exercise and physical activity programs.
In 2011 she established Salaso Health Solutions (salaso.com), a Digital Health company developing online, mobile and telehealth solutions to pioneer precision exercise for healthier lives. Salaso enables healthcare providers embed exercise prescriptions and physical activity programs as a core pillar of the care plan.
From its head office at Kerry Technology Park in Tralee, Ireland, Salaso’s platforms are serving customers in the healthcare and employee wellness industry sectors in Ireland, UK and US markets and is shortlisted for a National Health Technology Innovation award for 2021.
Deborah Foley is the acting coordinator of Carlow Local Sports Partnership and has worked in the sporting landscape in Ireland for the past nine years. She has experience in working for various National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships and as a volunteer. She is now responsible for overseeing the increase of, and sustain, the number of people taking part in sport and physical activity. Targeting the least active and to contribute towards local agendas for health, community cohesion, economic development and educational achievement.
“Hi my name is Chris Cassoni, I live in Kilmacanogue, Wicklow. I attend Rehabcare in Bray, and I participate in many programs such as Active Healthy Me. I have keen interests in Music and writing.”
Tom Losey is the founder and MD of Liquid Therapy a multi award winning Surf and Ocean charity based in South Donegal. They deliver a range of programs built and supported by industry experts that infuse a child led approach with a practical mental health toolkit to young people who struggle too or cannot participate in mainstream sports.
Founded in 2011 Liquid Therapy has grown from one volunteer serving 3 families through to 2021 now with a core team and large volunteer network that has delivered over 4000 sessions to up to 2000 participants across 11 different programs.
Tom is passionate about the power of blue space and is a strong advocate that sport has a growing role and responsibility to empower participants not only with the traditional physical and social benefits but also the emotional resiliency and development of its participants.
Charlie is a first year student in Grange Post Primary school and a kid who just loves life and embraces his ASD diagnosis . From a young age, his mum Denise has taught him that it is good to be different. As well as surfing he loves to dance and play on his consoles in his free time and he leaves a lasting impression on anyone he meets.
Charlie was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 6. As he was not a fan of team sports, Denise wanted Charlie to try something different, a sport without any pressure to compete and having heard about the amazing work that Liquid Therapy do she signed him up for his first surf lesson with Tom when he was 8… and he has never looked back. Every summer since then Charlie has taken part in the programs Liquid Therapy offer and this year they introduced a new sibling camp so his sister got to join him out on the water and it was just a wonderful experience for them both.
Rhian has worked in the disability and inclusion sector for 6 years and is passionate about the positive impact physical activity and sport can have on peoples’ lives. Rhian has been working at Cara for 2 and a half years and currently is the Training and Education Coordinator.
One of the programmes Rhian leads on is ‘Active Healthy Me’ which is a health and wellbeing programme that is delivered directly to people with disabilities in adult day care services. The programme was developed in partnership with the HSE and Sport Ireland to support the adoption of a positive culture and capacity among people with disabilities and adult day services towards the awareness and understanding of the health benefits of physical activity and raise awareness of the opportunities that are available to them to participate within their local community.
Rhian coordinates the training and education framework across Cara and is enthusiastic about the process of education, learning and development and understanding the role educators, programmes, tutors and coaches can play in creating positive, inclusive learning environments for everyone and provide high quality participation opportunities for people with disabilities across Ireland.
Mei Lin Yap
Mei Lin Yap, I am 32 years old and has Down Syndrome. She is an advocate and a voice for people with all disabilities. Mei Lin has written several articles for online magazine Frontline, Irish Voice of Intellectual Disabilities and is also the editor of Frontline’s social media sites. She enjoys public speaking and has been part of the Open Doors Initiative Launch in September 2018. She is also employed by Trinity College Dublin as the Ambassador Liaison Officer at IDS-TILDA is a longitudinal study researching ageing in Ireland among people with an intellectual disability aged 40 and over. Mei Lin says “My goal in life is to show the world what people with Down Syndrome can do. I like to challenge myself and push the boundaries. I hope to set an example that will encourage, inspire and challenge society to change their perspective in respect of disability.”
Chris is 36 years old and has been working in Social Care, specifically with people who have a disability for 11 years. Chris is currently the programmes supervisor for a high support service (Lean Ar Aghaidh) in Rehabcare Bray, Co. Wicklow. Chris enjoys sports, especially soccer, rugby, running and gym exercise.
Sarah Kerrigan runs a social media page called troubleonapegleg. She created troubleonapegleg to share her experiences of inclusive physical activity and adventures in the hope of encouraging others in a similar boat to get out there, explore and see what’s possible. She has a BSc in Sports and Exercise Management from UCD and a diploma in Strength & Conditioning for Special Populations. She’s very lucky that her work is her passion and her passion is her work.
She recently finished up a five month contract on the participation team with Swim Ireland. The highlight for her was getting to run inclusive Pilates and a dip session with her childhood friend Niamh Cleary. Niamh is a brilliant and adaptable Pilates instructor. Together, they were able to deliver some fantastic sessions with Swim Ireland. They’re looking forward to running more of these classes in the future when the weather picks up again next year.
Off the back of her contract with Swim Ireland she was lucky enough to play a part in Cara’s Fit For All campaign in October 2021. She ran two virtual inclusive exercise classes during this event, and was also involved in the final webinar titled “The importance of inclusive fitness for people with disabilities”. She is excited to be back filming and working again with Cara for this Live Cast.
Watch the Live:Cast 2021