An innovative swimming group is one of six Derry projects to have been awarded grants by the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme.
Foyle Inclusive swimmers have been given £2,405 to run swimming training four young people with learning difficulties.
“Once the young people were able to swim some of them wanted to take their swimming more seriously and so the Foyle Inclusive Swimmers’ club was born,” explained John Cregan, whose daughter Lisa is a keen member of the club.
“We currently have about nine members but that number is growing as more young people come through the basic swimming class and want to take the activity further.”
The club uses the City of Derry Swimming Baths and the services of three coaches who give their time free of charge.
This funding will go towards paying for the hire of the pool for those sessions.
To date they have won 15 medals in Northern Ireland and All-Ireland competitions and is setting its sights towards UK titles now.
“It’s great to be assured of this funding as it gives the club great stability for the next 12 months. We don’t have to worry about funding but can concentrate on our competition work which gives these young people not only an active physical interest but is also excellent for encouraging other skills, such as team building,” said John.
“It also offers quite a challenge to the members in that the rules within these competitions are rigorous so our young people have to be able to master their technique and competition skills too which is a great opportunity for them.
“Being involved in a group like this isn’t about ‘why can’t we’ – it’s about ‘why can we not’.
“That’s what our young people prove time and again.”
Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland Chair, said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s NI Awards for All programme funds projects that help people bring about positive change in their lives, improve health and well-being, develop skills and create safer communities.
“Groups across Northern Ireland can now apply for more funding from the programme.”
The other Derry groups to receive grants are the Loup women’s Group, Creggan Country Park, Learmont Community Development, Rural Area Partnership and the Ballylaw Women’s Group.