Louth SNA launches inclusive water sports training


A group of children and teens with extra needs had a wonderful summer trying their hand at water sports, thanks to an innovative program run by volunteers from Special Needs Assistants in Louth (SNAIL).

he SNAIL Sail-Ability program took place in collaboration with the Carlingford Sail Training Center throughout the summer.

All of the centre’s staff are fully qualified sailing instructors with extensive knowledge and experience in engaging children in water sports. Sailing training staff and volunteers (ANS and parents) trained alongside them before starting the inclusive water sports program. The training included disability inclusion, aquatic equipment, first aid, manual handling, communication with non-verbal children and water safety provided by the Greenore Coast Guard.

During the summer, children and youth with additional needs were able to participate in the program, alongside their siblings and parents if they so wished.

The program aims to introduce children and young people with additional needs to water sports, in accordance with the new “National Outdoor Recreation Strategy” recently launched by the government.

The group wants to establish a sailing club from next year to provide an opportunity for every child / young person with additional needs in County Louth to experience water sports.

SNA Volunteers have been part of SNAIL (Special Needs Assistants in Louth), a group that has supported children with additional needs, their siblings and parents / guardians in the local community since 2016.

Parents from a local group called SNAP (Special Needs Active Parents) also volunteer in the program. SNAP aims to provide support to children with additional needs and their parents and is run on a voluntary basis by parents. They organize events and activities for children and trainings for parents. SNAP invites new parents to join the group.

The Netwell CASALA Advanced Research Center and the School of Health and Science in DkIT are also involved in the program. A group of researchers from Netwell CASALA is undertaking an evaluation of the program to explore and document the experiences, feelings and opinions of parents of children participating in the program.

The inclusive water sports program is sponsored by the Louth Leader Partnership and the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Program (SICAP), the Irish Sailing Association and SNAP. LMETB Community Education Louth Service funded the training of volunteers.


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