Variety Ireland Visits Leinster House
As a Irish charity that promotes inclusion and equality for children with disabilities, we at Variety – the Children’s Charity of Ireland were delighted to be recently invited to Leinster House by Senator Mary Seery Kearney, where we were given the opportunity to showcase how our charity work is impacting the daily lives of families with children with disabilities.
Thanks to Senator Seery Kearney, we were given a platform to brief members of the Oireachtas and the wider parliamentary community, on the benefits that our scientific lead programmes are having to ensure children with disabilities are included in activities with their family and friends.
We were delighted to be given the opportunity to show Oireachtas and parliamentary members how our Recycle Mobility Programme, which provides support funding for special mobility trikes to children with disabilities, is playing a pivotal role in improving the mental and physical health of both children with disabilities and their family members. As a green and fully sustainable programme, it also ensures that when a child outgrows their trike, it is then passed onto another children with disabilities for the same enjoyment .
Thanks to Ministers Anne Rabbitte from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, and Minister Eamon Ryan from the Department of Transport who supported the initial stage of this programme, we were able to carry out the first study ever conducted in Ireland of the benefits that special mobility trikes have on both the mental and physical well-being of families with children with disabilities. With the support of our charity, both departments co-sponsored 40 special mobility trikes that have already been given to children with mobility issues.
In our Recycle Mobility Programme report which was conducted by Dr. Jolanta Burke of the RCSI, University of Medicine and Health Sciences Ireland, it shows that providing special mobility trikes to children with disabilities not only promotes inclusion and opportunities for children with disabilities, but also improves both the mental and physical well-being of all family members by up to 87.5%.
The results provided in Dr. Jolanta Burke’s report also recommend that our Recycle Mobility Programme should be considered as partial fulfilment of the government’s strategy for enhancing well-being for families with children with disabilities.
Given that wellbeing is now one of the Department of Education’s national priorities (DOE, 2021), providing children with disability with special mobility trikes can significantly contribute to the wellbeing of both students and their families, who are part of the school community.
Variety Ireland Ambassador Saoírse Ruane who launched our “Recycle Mobility Programme said “I’m so happy and delighted that the work I’m doing with Variety Ireland is benefiting so many families with children with disabilities. I love cycling and I think every child should be given the chance to experience what it is like regardless of their own ability. It allows them to be included in activities with other family members outside of the home.
“Doing this in an environmentally friendly way is great as we get to pass on trikes to other children when they have outgrown them. Children with disabilities should be given the same chance as others.”
Our Recycle Mobility Programme has already delivered 40 trikes to children with disabilities with the kind help of Minister Rabbitte and Minister Ryan, with lots more children going to benefit in the months and years to come. It promotes fairness and equal access to every child. It’s all about having fun!”
According to Variety – the Children’s Charity Chief Executive , Derek O’Neill, “It is our belief at Variety – the Children’s Charity of Ireland that children with disabilities in Ireland should have access to social inclusion, equality and equal opportunity.”
“As a charity that does not have a paid CEO or paid board members, who all dedicate their time to the charity from free to help disadvantaged children, we maximise the spend of all donations and any government funding we may receive in the future to ensure the charity can operate to helping those who need it the most.”
Derek continues ”At a time when the government are building new fabulous green ways and green spaces across the county for people to enjoy, it is paramount that we continue to include and provide equal opportunity and access to cycling for children with disabilities so they can experience the same enjoyment as the rest of us. This clean, green and sustainable initiative not only benefits families with children with disabilities, but also ensures that pre-loved mobility trikes that are passed onto other children after one has outgrown them.” Not only does this stop used trikes reaching harmful landfill sites, but also saves money as the charity does not have to repeatedly fund new trikes which offers financial savings.”
This can only be done through public-private partnership where the government continue to financially co-support our “Recycle Mobility Programme” where according to Dr Jolanta Burke of the RCSI, University of Medicine and Health Sciences Ireland “a small act of riding a bike, which many of us take for granted, can make such a colossal difference in improving the lives of families with children with disabilities.”
With an ever growing waiting list of children looking for funding for special mobility trikes across Ireland, we are now hoping the government will continue to co-sponsor our programme that will help to delivery more special mobility trikes to improve the quality of lives of families with children with disabilities.