Fossa camp set sights on helping others
GAA BLITZ FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED
ALMOST 40 children with visual impairments travelled to Fossa last week to participate of a five day residential camp providing specially adapted activities.
One such activity held on Thursday certainly grabbed the attention of passers by - a GAA Blitz in Fossa GAA Club, believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the country.
Four teams took part on the day - Fossa, Dr Crokes, Spa and Austin Stacks - and each team included three children or 'campers' of varying degrees of visual impairment.
"Some of the kids are partially impaired and so they were happy to get stuck in themselves, while others required an assistant who ran with them on the pitch - the ball also had a rattle, so that helped a great deal too," Kevin Smith of the National Learning Network, a member of 'Camp Abilities' organising committee, states.
"The event also educated other players on how to communicate better too. We have had links with the teams involved and that helped. For instance, we have used the facilities in Spa and Fossa before, we have had our Easter camp at Dr Crokes and Austin Stacks have fundraised with us too," Kevin adds.
It's the fourth year the Fossa-based camp and the kids, who come from all over Ireland, stay at An Óige's local youth hostel.
"The basic aim is to introduce them to a wide range of activities that may not be available in their areas," Kevin continues.
"Our activities included soccer, athletics, horse riding, judo and the high ropes course in Fossa, as well as the Gaelic football blitz."
Organised by CARA Adapted Physical Activity Centre at IT Tralee, in association with Sporting Chance programme of the National Learning Network and the Council For The Blind, Kevin says the support locally for Camp Abilities has been immense.
"We have over 60 volunteers involved and a lot of businesses have also helped out such as The Malton whose chef John O'Leary cooked meals, Buckley's Coaches, Daly's, Lidl, Dunnes, Dawn Dairies and Killarney Sports and Leisure Complex.
"There are many more who helped out too, including Garda Brendan O'Donovan who helped organise a lot of the sponsorship," he adds.
Six children from Kerry took part in the camp this year and any family interested in participating should contact CARA APA centre in Tralee.