Limerick special school undertakes student challenge of Olympic proportions

Pupils at St Gabriel's have been taking on a Olympic-sized challenge. Photo: Maria Nolan.

ST GABRIEL’S students are proving that to participate is a win of Olympic proportions, following the launch of the Special Olympics Motor Activities Training Programme (MATP) at the Dooradoyle school.

The MATP caters to athletes with severe disabilities for whom physical or behavioural challenges may hinder their engagement in conventional Special Olympics events.

And supporting the special sports stars are their neighbours, transition year students from the Crescent College Comprehensive.

Unlike traditional competitions, MATP prioritises training and participation over competition. It focuses on enhancing fundamental motor skills associated with official Special Olympics sports and emphasises personal progress.

Through tailored training sessions and adapted equipment, the program aims to provide an inclusive environment where individuals of all abilities can thrive.

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Under the guidance of their teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs), and with the help of the local transition year students, the students at St Gabriel’s have embraced their weekly challenges of Olympic proportions.

“For years our students have been practicing these motor skills as part of their school life, under the guidance of their teachers and SNAs. Now, to officially be practicing under the Special Olympics umbrella is just such a fantastic milestone; they are finally getting the recognition they deserve for all their hard work and efforts,” said St Gabriel’s Special Olympics coordinator Maria Nolan.

“We are so excited to see where this will take us and really proud of our wonderful students. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous support and hard work of our staff, the collaboration with our lovely neighbours at Crescent College.”

Ms Nolan lauded “the unwavering dedication of parents, and, above all, the determination and enthusiasm of our students”.

The recent official launch event welcomed parents, supporters, and distinguished guests to witness the remarkable progress achieved by the students.

Several athletic VIPs were among the esteemed guests, including All-Ireland winning Limerick hurler Adam English, accompanied by none other than the Liam McCarthy cup, as well as Rosemary Ryan, Síofra O’Shea, and Eileen Ahern.