Accessing the Oceans is one of the three projects announced this week as a winner in the Sports Category of the Arthur Guinness Projects.
The project is based in Donegal and provides therapy for people with special needs through the medium of surfing lessons.
The winning projects were chosen by a combination of public vote and the recommendation of an expert panel of judges including Donegal Football manager Jim McGuinness, Broadcaster Matt Cooper, Sarah O’Connor of the Federation of Irish Sport and Rob Hartnett of Sport for Business.
Accessing the Ocean was submitted by project leader Thomas Losey who, together with a dedicated group of ten fellow surfing instructors in Donegal has brought the Atlantic into the lives of those who can sometimes be left on the margins.
In 2011 the group helped 30 individuals to experience the benefits of surfing and that number has continued to rise. It was helped initially by the local Donegal Sports partnership and is now working with different groups involved in the treatment of Arthritis and Autism amongst others.
The group of volunteers work in the main for the Bundoran Surf Company which operates a commercial surf school but which has also been very supportive of the project which the volunteers undertake in their own free time.
No charge is made to individuals or families and the Arthur Guinness Projects funding will help to expand the offering from Donegal, initially onto the Derry and Antrim Coasts as well as other parts of our island nation.
Sport for Business will host a Round Table discussion on Philanthropy and Sport on November 28th 2013. Click here for more details.
Thomas’ passion for what he does clearly shone through at the interview stage of the process and the judges believe that the funding given will assist in not only delivering the benefits to a greater number but also in planning for how a long term sustainable business can be built on what has already been laid as a foundation.
The amount of time, work and energy that has gone into bringing the project to life has been significant but the benefit is has brought to those who experienced it has been almost immeasurable.
Doing that on a larger scale will leave an important legacy for those it touches and make Ireland a better place as a result.
You can see a video below of an outing that took place at the end of the 2012 season and which shows in part the joy that the participants get from being able to access the ocean.
Over the next two days we will look at the other winners – Club Colours, a Kerry based venture providing sports clubs from all codes with the ability to offer branded merchandise to members and supporters; and the Plurabelle Paddlers a group set up to provide fitness motivation and ideas to women recovering from Breast Cancer.
The Arthur Guinness projects will run again in 2014 and it is never too early to start thinking if a project you are involved in, that has sport at its heart and which can show a clear benefit for communities and society, might be suitable for submission.
Click below for details of the Sport for Business Events Programme