Reflecting on the year, we are deeply appreciative and profoundly thankful for the incredible dedication of our volunteers, who have generously contributed over 2,700 hours of their time to Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership (KRSP). Their commitment is at the heart of our mission to make sports inclusive and accessible to all, and we cannot emphasise enough the value they bring to our programs.
This year, we’ve run two essential programs, and their success is a testament to the invaluable support of our volunteers.
This initiative is all about enabling children with additional needs to experience the joy of swimming at their own pace, while fostering connections that benefit both participants and volunteers.
Unlike conventional swimming lessons, which often involve group instruction, this program provides individualised support tailored to each child’s unique requirements. At the heart of the program are our volunteers, affectionately known as Swim Buddies. They provide crucial support by echoing and reinforcing the teachings of the swim instructors.
Our program thrives thanks to the collaborative efforts of Kilkenny’s Transition Year students, parents, and the school community. This united front promotes social good. Our volunteers also benefit from continuous mentoring and guidance provided by KRSP staff, swim instructors, and Transition Year Coordinators fostering personal growth and ensuring program success. In total, the program requires almost 800 direct volunteer hours. For our young volunteers, they often use their time here to achieve their Gaisce Award in Transition Year and bolster their early-stage CVs.
Each year, KRSP delivers a comprehensive summer program tailored to children with additional needs. In 2023, our program offered an array of activities, with a strong focus on inclusivity and engagement. Here’s an overview of what our program featured:
Weeklong Inclusive Summer Camps: We ran 3 camps with 24 children with additional needs in each camp.
GAA Summer Programme; this was a specialised GAA program designed for 20 children with additional needs.
Swim Camp; This was a 5-day swim camp with three sessions per day, catering to 24 children with additional needs.
To make this program a success, we invited applications from both youth and adult volunteers. Our selection process adhered to KRSP’s safe recruitment policy, ensuring that we had the right individuals to support our young participants. We are proud to announce that we recruited 34 youth volunteers and 6 adult volunteers, whose combined efforts resulted in over 1,900 hours of dedicated service.
It’s important to note that our volunteers don’t need to be “sporty.” Instead, we value their willingness to support and empower every child, helping them make the most of the summer camp experience. Our goal is to expose children with additional needs to a wide range of activities, guided by our local sport development officers.
These programmes offer dual benefits. Firstly, it provides participant with a safe and enjoyable environment to learn and embrace sport. Secondly, for many volunteers, it serves as their initial interaction with individuals with disabilities, a group representing 12.5% of Ireland’s population. The programmes are a shining example of how collective actions and shared compassion can lead to a more inclusive and socially beneficial community, demonstrating the power of collaboration in bringing about positive change.