From Tralee to Togo: group travels to West Africa to work with children with disabilities

Project title: “Plan2Inclusivize”

When: October 2015, Where: Togo, West Africa

Ann O’Connor, of UNESCO, IT Tralee, in partnership with international children’s charity, Plan International Ireland and CARA (National Adapted Physical Activity Centre Ireland) has developed a pioneering sports inclusion programme and toolkit for use in developing countries to promote participation and inclusion among children and adults with disabilities.

This innovative programme is being piloted in Togo, West Africa in October 2015. Ann along with Frank Velthuizen, Plan International Ireland’s Disability Programme Coordinator and Aine Coogan of the CARA Disability Inclusion Training tutor team will travel to Sokode, Central Togo to deliver this innovative programme.

Children with disabilities across West Africa are subject to profound levels of poverty, exclusion and discrimination. They are widely excluded from education and denied access to protection services as well as other rights enjoyed by abled children.

In total, 24 community volunteers and youth workers in addition to three representatives from the Togolese Paralympic Committee and two staff of Monde Radieux (DPO) will participate in the training workshop.

“Plan2Inclusivize” provides a fundamental understanding of disability and hands-on practice in order to include children with disabilities in sport and play activities. Our ultimate aim is to improve the lives of children with a disability through the medium of sport and active play.

The Plan2Inclusivize toolkit was developed through the support of the CARA Disability Inclusion Training approach and materials.

“Plan2Inclusivize Togo is about empowering the community volunteers and youth workers to engage with their communities as a whole to elevate the concept and practice of inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in sports to new heights in Togo,” said Ann O Connor as the partnership was launched this week.

“We are very excited to be part of this programme as it will help to inform future standards of inclusive sports programmes and policy, not only in Togo but also in other countries in Africa as the training is cascaded through Plan International. Mainstreaming inclusion, in both development and humanitarian contexts, is essential if we are to provide a quality education for all children,” said Frank Velthuizen of Plan International Ireland.

“We are very grateful to the Football Association of Ireland and the Kerry GAA County Board who have kindly donated 50 footballs and Kerry Cúl Camps Kits respectively. This will ensure that the 120 children who will take part in the initial training programme will be kitted out properly,” concluded Ann.