Vision Sports Ireland and NCBI have launched a new initiative supporting young people to build new skills in advocacy and campaigning.

The Youth Forum will be an annual programme supporting young people who are blind or vision impaired, to identify an area where they want to achieve change through campaigning.

Working together, the group of eight teenagers, who had previously completed the Vision Sports Youth Leadership programme, will develop a campaign to create a more inclusive and supporting environment in school, sport and/or society in general.

The Youth Forum will also be provided with an opportunity to present their concerns and recommendations to the Board of Vision Sports Ireland, futureproofing accessible sport.

“The Youth Forum will help shape the future of sport and physical activity opportunities and programmes for young people who are blind or vision impaired in Ireland, whilst empowering self-advocacy skills and raising awareness about possible barriers of inclusion,” said Sarah Maloney, Operations and Communications Coordinator of Vision Sports Ireland.

“The Youth Forum is a fantastic new initiative by NCBI and Vision Sports Ireland to support and encourage young people to use their voices to create change,” added Lorna Fitzpatrick, Advocacy and Engagement Manager with NCBI.

“Young people are the future policy and decision-makers, and we are delighted to be working with them to empower them to create a more inclusive society for all.”

The launch of the Forum at the Irish Sports Campus, where the Youth Forum participated in a workshop on campaigning with Lorna Fitzpatrick, NCBI Advocacy and Engagement Manager, followed by an engaging session with Mark Pollock, motivational speaker and first blind person to race to the South Pole.

“It was great to meet a group of young people who are so passionate about making the world of sport and physical activity more inclusive,” said Pollock.

“There can be additional challenges for people with disabilities when participating in sport and that is something this Forum will try to address. These young people have so much energy and their commitment is clear so I have no doubt their campaign will be one that will lead to great awareness and change.”

The Youth Forum will also support the role out of NCBI and Vision Sports Ireland Campaigns and will feed into the strategic activities of Vision Sports Ireland.