SIDO Profile – Pádraig Healy

“My uncle has an intellectual disability and attends COPE Foundation services in Cork. I saw the enjoyment sport brought to his life and I love working with people. ”

Meet Pádraig Healy, a Sport Inclusion Disability Officer with Kildare Sports Partnership

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am originally from Dungarvan Co. Waterford and I am currently living in Sallins Co. Kildare. I have two brothers and two sisters. From a young age I have had a keen interest in sport and physical activity. Over the years I have participated in many different sports including hurling, football, soccer, cycling and athletics. In recent years I have taken up triathlon and I am a member of Naas Triathlon Club.

 What motivated you to follow this career path? Was it always an area that you could see yourself being involved in professionally?

My uncle has an intellectual disability and attends COPE Foundation services in Cork. I saw the enjoyment sport brought to his life and I love working with people. While studying Sports, Recreation & Leisure in Cork Institute of Technology I completed placement in the PE department of Carriglea Cairde Service, this is a care centre for adults with intellectual disability. I really enjoyed supporting and encouraging participants to engage in physical activity and from that time knew it was an area I wanted to pursue my career.

On completing my studies I worked as a social care worker for four years before taking up the post as Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with Cork Sports Partnership in 2014.

 What areas have you studied as part of your career development? (i.e. what did you study in college and what further training/upskilling have you undertaken since?)

I have a completed a degree in Sports Recreation Leisure & Business studies from Cork Institute of Technology, along with a higher degree in Business Studies. Following this I completed a one year certificate in Disability Studies from University College Cork. While working for the Brothers of Charity in Cork I completed a part time degree over three years in Applied Social Studies in Social Care from Waterford Institute of Technology. Recently with support from Kildare Sports Partnership I have completed a Diploma in Personal & Business Coaching from the Irish Lifecoach Institute.

 What areas are you responsible for in your role as a Sport Inclusion Disability Officer & how long have you been in post?

The SIDO role is a coordinating role that works to empower clubs and communities to create more opportunities for people with a disability to get involved in physical activity. The three strategic pillars of my work are 1) Training and Education, 2) Programmes and events, 3) Promotion and Awareness. A large part of the role is marketing and promotion, the use of social media has become a wonderful platform to help increase awareness of activities available for people with a disability across the county.

Meeting with clubs and partners to give them the tools to establish inclusive programmes is a large part of my role. I also directly coordinate programmes and events with partner agencies.

I began the role with Kildare Sports Partnership in September 2018.

 What does a typical day look like for you in your role?

Under the three pillars mentioned above each day consists of answering emails and queries, planning and coordinating programmes and events, meeting with partners, marketing work. Some examples of the work completed over the past few months are GAA For All, Naas GAA recently hosted a GAA For All programme for children with special needs. I work with national governing bodies to establish new clubs, we recently in collaboration with Irish Wheelchair Sport we set up the Lilywhite Wheelers Multi Sport Club for children with physical disabilities. Organising events to increase awareness of disability sport and inclusion, we recently organised an inclusive cycle as part of the Leinster Loop cycling sportif and in June we collaborated with Liffey Celtics Basketball Club to host a women’s integrated basketball blitz with players from mainstream and Special Olympics Basketball teams.

 How do you link with Cara as part of your role as a Sport Inclusion Officer?

The online resources and training opportunities that CARA provide are a wonderful support when engaging with clubs and community groups.

We support the role out in Kildare of national programme coordinated by CARA such as Fit For All Week. The National Inclusion Awards are a fantastic way to recognise the great work being done by clubs and volunteers across the county. I find the training and networking events organised by CARA hugely beneficial where we have the opportunity to discuss the success and challenges of our work.

 How can Cara support you more in your role as Sport Inclusion Disability Officer?

Continue to increase the free online resources and I’m In Too videos to allow us share at a local level.

 What do you feel is the most enjoyable and rewarding part of your job?

The most enjoyable part of the job is making a club or programme sustainable and supporting it to grow. Creating sustainable opportunities can have life changing impacts for participants and their family’s life.

 Is there one particular initiative/event that you have been involved in through your role that you look on with great pride and satisfaction?

Establishing the Lilywhite Wheelers Multi sport Club with Irish Wheelchair Association Sport earlier this year has been a fantastic experience. Seeing the enjoyment participants are having at the weekly sessions and being part of something new. Supporting the volunteers through the steps of establishing a new club was rewarding and their enthusiasm to grow the club is infectious.

 How would you like to see yourself progressing within the job over the next five years?

I would like to double the number of programmes, and clubs currently available for people with a disability across Kildare.

We want inclusion to be at the heart of every club and organisation across the county. I hope that National Governing Bodies of Sport will be given more resources to promote their games for people with a disability and that I can support this at a local level. In five years time I will be happy if we have a spread of programmes and clubs across the county serving the needs of all disability profiles providing physical activity and social opportunities.

 Have you any ideas/initiatives that you would like to see developed over that time?

It would be great to have a modern online platform with an interactive map of each county that provides information in audio, video and print on activities available. The platform would be accessible to all abilities.