Empowering Dreams: Rebel Wheelers' Quest for Inclusive Athletics

March 22, 2024

Rebel Wheelers, a pioneering sports club established in 2008, has been a beacon of inclusivity and empowerment for children and adults with physical disabilities in Cork. With a mission to provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of physical abilities, the club has championed the cause of inclusion in sports, particularly athletics. Now, they stand in full support of Ceasc's mission to establish a world-class track facility in East Cork, recognising its potential to transform the landscape for disabled athletes.

Since its inception, Rebel Wheelers has blossomed from a small group of five members to a vibrant community of over 150, ranging in age and encompassing both girls and boys. Central to the club's ethos is the promotion of inclusion, self-esteem, fun, and teamwork through sports activities. However, the journey towards inclusivity has not been without its challenges.

Children and adults with physical disabilities often face exclusion from mainstream sports activities, which can significantly impact their physical and psychological well-being. Recognising this, Rebel Wheelers has been proactive in adapting its programs to accommodate a diverse range of physical disabilities. Through specialised training and expert guidance, the club ensures that every member can participate fully in sports, reaping the numerous benefits associated with physical activity.

Rebel Wheelers have a variety of sports outside of para athletics. With a very successful wheelchair basketball team, who to date have only lost one game in 5 years. They also have a wheelchair rugby team who are back-to-back league champions in 2022 and 2023. A club that welcomes anyone from the age of 5 up, their Saturday Morning Club gives children the chance to try all para sports while making new friends too.

Despite their remarkable growth and success, Rebel Wheelers remains entirely dependent on fundraising efforts and grant applications to sustain their operations. Every penny raised is reinvested back into the club to fund programs, purchase equipment, cover venue hire, and transport costs. This financial constraint underscores the urgent need for accessible facilities that can accommodate the unique requirements of disabled athletes.

One of the key aspirations for Rebel Wheelers is to revitalise the athletics program, particularly in track and field events. However, the absence of a suitable track facility has posed significant challenges. Olivia, a representative from Rebel Wheelers, highlighted the pressing need for accessible track facilities in Cork, emphasising the impact it would have on their athletes and coaches.

Olivia remarked, "We found ourselves without any track facility for the past year, and this year is unfortunately looking the same. More importantly, the fact that we are growing means we now would need a track for more than one season per week, and to be able to book a slot for our younger athletes and another for our teenage athletes would be so beneficial and help us keep this program going and growing."

The absence of a track facility not only impedes the development of disabled athletes but also poses logistical challenges for athletes and their families. Accessible parking, equipment transportation, and scheduling conflicts further exacerbate the situation, hindering the club's ability to expand its programs and accommodate growing demand.

In light of these challenges, Rebel Wheelers stands firmly behind Ceasc's initiative to establish a world-class track facility in East Cork. Such a facility would not only provide a safe and inclusive space for disabled athletes but also serve as a catalyst for community engagement and social inclusion. By supporting this endeavour, we can pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive future in sports for all individuals, regardless of ability.

As advocates for inclusivity and empowerment, Rebel Wheelers remains committed to championing the rights of disabled athletes and ensuring equal access to sporting opportunities. With the establishment of a dedicated track facility, the club envisions a future where every child, regardless of disability, can unleash their full potential and thrive in the world of athletics.