Following the recent article by the Gibraltar Disability Society, the Minister for Sport / GSLA wish to reassure service users and their families and carers of this Government’s commitment to Parasports and excellent service provision of accessible facilities.
The Gibraltar Parasports Association (GPA) submitted an application to the GSLA to purchase multi-sports wheelchairs via their annual application process. This bid was reviewed by the Gibraltar Sports Advisory Council (GSAC) – as is the case for all other sports bids for new equipment – and has been approved. A donation from the Peter J Isola Foundation kindly contributed funds equivalent to 2-3 wheelchairs, whilst the remaining (10-11) will be funded by the Government via the GPA’s application to GSAC.
The GSLA, in conjunction with the GPA, held training workshops for Summer Sports Leaders both in the Sports Train and the Stay & Play initiatives, with a view of incorporating wheelchair sports to the Summer Sports Programme. A taster session at the beginning of July was successful and enjoyed by all.
At the Accessible Pool, some pieces of mobility equipment have been successfully repaired whilst others are awaiting the arrival of spare parts or total replacements from abroad. Unfortunately, some equipment has faced delays due to factors affecting global supply that are outside the Government’s control.
Additionally, the roof of the pool experienced an electrical fault that again required specialist spares to be ordered from abroad. However, efforts have been made to allow for 50% of the roof to open during the warm summer months as a temporary, albeit partial, solution. As a further measure to counter the summer heat, staff ensure that all surrounding doors are kept open and the heating system for pool water is switched off.
The Ministry of Sport and the GSLA are committed to the continuous enhancement of sporting provisions for individuals with disabilities. The GSLA has employed administrative staff whose main role is to further Parasports in Gibraltar as a matter of Government policy, liaising with professionals on the field to give opportunities to ALL to reach their maximum potential.
The GSLA is in the process of reaching out to the Gibraltar Football Association with a view to introduce the Paralympic Sport of Cerebral Palsy Football. Other associations have also been engaged, including the Rugby Association and Basketball Association, with the aim to establish Wheelchair Rugby and Wheelchair Basketball respectively.
The annual Stay & Play Programme provides sports and leisure activities through different initiatives, with numerous venues offering access to wide range of sporting pursuits. Adaptations to sports are at the forefront of their planning in order to ensure accessibility for all.
Furthermore, a collaboration with teachers from St Martin’s School has facilitated integration into the ‘Sports Train’ in order to continue the work done with their ‘Outreach’ Programme. The GSLA enjoys a working partnership with PossAbilities, which this summer for the first time has facilitated the integration of LSF children in to the Sports Train initiative. The extra support offered has ensured that a total of 30 LSF students have enjoyed the activities on offer so far this summer.
The Stay & Play Wing at the Boathouse, located at the Bayside Sports Complex, continues to provide a specialist facility throughout the day (including outside of the GSLA’s Stay and Play Programme) for children with disabilities to use. The Care Agency have also been offered office facilities at the Boathouse in order to maximise the use of the Stay & Play Wing for their service users to enjoy throughout the year.
The Minister for Sport, the Hon Steven Linares, said: ‘This GSLP/Liberal Government has never left any stone unturned to give opportunities to all, including in the field of Parasports, as a matter of policy. There is always more that can and will be done, and I would like to reassure the Gibraltar Disability Society and the whole of the community of this Government’s continued commitment to Parasports in Gibraltar.
‘Not only have we supported Parasports recently, but also invested in facilities as soon as we came into government, such as the magnificent extensions at the Boathouse area for the Stay and Play. What we inherited in 2011 was a pitiful area in the boathouse which we considered not fit for purpose. By stark contrast, these facilities are now used for Stay and Play during the summer and are available all though the year.
‘This Government is proud to have had the vision of building a sport complex for Special Olympics Gibraltar, which is being used by the global Special Olympics organisation an example of the concept of inclusion.
‘People forget the lack of provision for people with disabilities in 2011. No Government of Gibraltar has ever done more for athletes and sportspeople with disabilities. We will constantly continue to develop more and advance more in this field as we do in all sports because we strongly believe in the value of sports as a catalyst to improve the lives of all.’