Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth, was joined by Jayne Moore from Sport NI, Robert Heyburn from Department for Communities, Andrea Herron from Disability Sport NI, Council Officers and local resident Gareth McNeilly to launch the new pool pods at Antrim Forum and Valley Leisure Centre.
Poolpod is a platform lift developed for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is transforming access to swimming pools for people with disabilities and restricted mobility.
The Council recently received £30,000 investment from Disability Sport NI through the Department for Communities and Sport NI, which allowed for the installation of a Poolpod in Antrim Forum.
Furthermore, to ensure increased accessibility across the Borough, Council approved funding for a second Poolpod which was recently installed in Valley Leisure Centre.
Mayor Smyth said: “I would like to thank Department for Communities, Sport NI and Disability Sport NI for their generous contribution towards this Poolpod and I’m delighted that Council has decided to approve spend for the installation of a second Poolpod at the Valley Leisure Centre.
“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, welcomes the funding.
He said: “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 added: “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.
“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.”
Gareth McNeilly said: “It’s great to see these new Poolpods being introduced to help people with limited mobility gain safe access to the swimming pool.
“As a competitive disabled golfer I know the excellent benefits both physically and mentally of sport and exercise and I’m sure these new pods will encourage more people with limited mobility to consider swimming as a safe and enjoyable form of exercise.”
For more information on the Poolpods and accessibility in the leisure centres visit www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/accessibility or alternatively ask a lifeguard in Antrim Forum or the Valley Leisure Centre.