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The Briefing

Progressive Building Society and Disability Sport NI return to sport with 2022 programme launch

by Aiken PR


Bethany Firth and Michael Boyd at the socially distanced launch of DSNI's 2022 programme

As part of its ongoing commitment to transform access to disability sports across Northern Ireland, Progressive Building Society has announced plans to sponsor a programme of Disability Sports NI activity and events until the end of 2022.

The programme launch was attended by gold–winning Paralympian Bethany Firth, fresh from the Tokyo 2020 Games where she added two gold and two silver medals to take her overall Paralympic tally to nine. Pictured alongside Progressive and DSNI staff, Firth heard how the Disability Sports Hubs have helped improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities since the partnership began in 2019.

In the past 24 months, Progressive Building Society and Disability Sport NI have developed over 27,000 participant opportunities to provide disabled people with an equal opportunity to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Recent programmes include an online ‘Miles and Smiles’ walking challenge, as well as NI’s first ever Virtual Boccia League, ensuring that those living with a disability still had access to sport and active recreation during lockdown.

Speaking at the socially distanced launch at Girdwood Community Hub in Belfast, Michael Boyd, Deputy Chief Executive of Progressive, welcomed the news, stating: 

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to continue our partnership with Disability Sports NI until the end of 2022.

“At Progressive, serving our local communities is at the heart of everything we do. DSNI is a charity that works hard to positively impact on the health and wellbeing of those living with a disability. It’s been a pleasure to see first–hand how the Disability Sports Hubs have helped make sports accessible to all. Today’s programme launch is part of our commitment to making a valuable contribution to local people and communities as we continue to support Disability Sport NI and their vision to create a more inclusive society.”

Among the DSNI events scheduled for 2021/22 is the continuation of the Schools Boccia competition and a Deaf Sports event, a new multi–sports initiative for those living with deafness and hearing impairments.

Kevin O’Neill, Chief Executive of Disability Sport NI, welcomed the news, stating: 

“During Covid–19 restrictions the lack of face–to–face sports opportunities meant that many disabled people found it extremely difficult to exercise and keep fit. I’m therefore absolutely delighted to see the relaunch of our Progressive funded community sport programme which will see a range of face–to–face sports activities and community events delivered in all of Northern Ireland’s 11 District Council areas.

“The programme will create hundreds of much needed inclusive sports opportunities and will enable thousands of disabled people to lead a more active and healthier lifestyle in their local area.”