The Power of the Outdoors For All

February 2024

Last month Greenhill YMCA hosted a one day conference “The Power of the Outdoors For All” – The event was organised by The Outdoor Partnership in conjunction with Tollymore National Outdoor Centre and Greenhill YMCA.

The aim of the day was to share learning on inclusive practice and also to showcase some of the practical training for instructors and coaches in order to make outdoor activities more inclusive and accessible to all.

There were insightful, interesting and inspiring inputs from all of the speakers in the morning session. Ricky Bell from Tollymore Centre Informed the group about “Climbing For All” and the experiences of people who had participated in sessions and the benefits to be gained from same, Laura McEvoy provided a personal insight into her own journey in dealing with adversity, the challenges she had to overcome and the role that the outdoors and climbing in particular played in her recovery. Mal O’Hare from Greenhill YMCA provided an insight into the experiences of Greenhill centre in providing inclusive activities and the many positive outcomes achieved to date alongside some of the challenges going forward. Aubrey Bingham from Disability Sport NI advised on the legislative requirements involved in providing outdoor spaces for people with a disability and an overview of a very successful cycling project that has recently commenced in one of the local parks. Paul Kellagher Mountaineering Ireland completed the morning session with a discussion about the way forward and the commitment required to make inclusive activities a reality for all.

The afternoon provided participants with the opportunity to experience practical delivery sessions and guidance on how to put inclusive learning into practice in order to make outdoor activities more accessible. Workshops included, Climbing, Canoeing, Orienteering and Rambling / Walking .

Feedback from the day was very positive with an ongoing aspiration to form a steering group to focus on practical ways of ensuring momentum around inclusion in the outdoors. Mal O’Hare Greenhill commented that there was a “great opportunity to progress inclusion for all through innovation, dedication and learning”.

The organisers would like to thank everyone who participated on the day, specifically those that were involved in the presentations and the delivery of workshops in the afternoon.

Mal O’Hare – Greenhill YMCA

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