An intrepid group of would-be mountaineers from the Foyle Down Syndrom Trust braved the perils of the Mourne Mountains last week on a trip to County Down.
The Mournes play host to visitors from all around the world and rock climbing there is a growing leisure activity.
The session for the group from Derry was co-ordinated by outdoor activity provider Life, who geared the group up in mountaineering equipment and helped them scale the rock faces in the stunningly beautiful region of the Mourne Mountains.
That was just one of the exciting outdoor activity sessions that the group have taken part around the country in the last couple of weeks.
Other activities they enjoyed included coasteering at Ballintoy, Co Down, and a session of wet bouldering.
One member of the group said: “My favourite activity was the rock climbing. It helped me face my fear of heights and I can’t wait to give it another go with my family.”
These outdoor activity taster sessions have been put in place by the Venture Outdoors. A spokesman said: “Creating Healthy Communities project with the aim to help people with disabilities, minority ethnic and disadvantaged communities all over Northern Ireland to access the outdoors, encourage them to take part in outdoor activities and also learn about where they can get involved in outdoor activities in their local area.
“Offering the taster sessions is the first step to achieving this goal.”
The Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, based in the Derry city, was formed in 1995 to promote development of a culture which would encourage and enable children with Down’s Syndrome to live full, independent and productive lives.
The Foyle Down Syndrome Trust Group is only one of 40 groups across Northern Ireland receiving these taster sessions with Venture Outdoors. Claire Overend, Venture Outdoors Development Officer, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the group to enjoy getting outdoors and help in terms of raising awareness of all outdoor activities that are available within their locality.”
A group member from the trust commented: “It was a great introduction to the outdoors.
“ I enjoyed every bit of each taster, it’s been an eye opener to the things that are available out there and I can’t wait to try another outdoor activity with friends and family.”
Maeve Curran, Venture Outdoors Marketing Officer, said: “CAAN are delighted with the success of the ‘Venture Outdoors’ project to date and the role it plays in engaging with people with disabilities, minority ethnic and disadvantaged communities in outdoor recreation.”
The Venture Outdoors Project is a three year initiative of the Countryside Access and Activities Network and has been provided with a grant of £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Programme and Ulster Garden Villages.
For more information of Venture outdoors visit (www.onegreatadventure.com)