A state-of-the-art Poolpod has transformed access to the swimming pool in Ballymena’s Seven Towers Leisure Centre.
The new equipment, which represents approximately £30,000 investment from Department for Communities and Sport NI through Disability Sport NI, allows users with mobility issues an easy way of entering the pool.
Poolpods are a platform lift that were developed for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and are transforming access to swimming pools for people with disabilities and restricted mobility.
Seven-year-old Avah McGinty was one of the first people to try out the Poolpod at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre.
Avah’s dad, Darren said it has been “a fantastic addition to the leisure centre” and he hopes to see more people making use of the equipment.
Darren added: “Avah has spina bifida and hydrocephalus and spends most of her time in a wheelchair. She is a very outgoing little lady and loves to try different activities with swimming being one of her favourites.
“This new Poolpod makes trips to the pool much easier and a much more enjoyable experience for her.
“I am sure this will encourage more people with limited mobility to consider swimming as a safe and enjoyable form of exercise.”
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, said: “It’s great to see this Poolpod being installed to help people with limited mobility gain safe access to the swimming pool.
“I would like to thank Department for Communities, Sport NI and Disability Sport NI for their generous contribution towards this Poolpod.
“This fantastic piece of technology will contribute to making our leisure centres more accessible for all users.”
Kevin O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Sport NI, added: “The facilities that have received the Poolpods have shown a great commitment to improving access and providing their staff with disability inclusion training.
“This project is part of the wider District Council Disability Sports Hub Project which recently saw a significant investment into disability sports equipment in every council area.”
Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown said:”Many benefits of an active lifestyle to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing should be open to everyone.
“These new Poolpods are the latest example of how the Active Living: No Limits Action Plan is enhancing the lives of local people with a disability through sport,” she added.
“The many benefits of an active lifestyle to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing should be open to everyone here, and Sport Northern Ireland is proud to be working with our partners to create more inclusive opportunities for local communities to enjoy, engage and excel in sport.”