Lakers gives all people with an intellectual disability the support to reach their potential.
Having an intellectual disability should not predetermine how your life will unfold. Like anyone else you should still have the opportunity to pursue your own interests and develop your unique personality. However, often the variety of social and recreational activities and the people you meet are limited by the school or service attended and what few suitable facilities exist locally. This absence of choice is a common experience for many people with an intellectual disability in Ireland. It can lead to lack of stimulation and personal growth, a waste of potential, and physical and mental health issues. Families can often feel isolated and frustrated.
As a teenager, Claire Brady began volunteering for a small basketball club for people with special needs. She realised that it was the only social outlet many of its members had. She saw the potential to create an inclusive organisation for anyone with an intellectual disability, where they would have choice and agency over how they spend their time. Today, Lakers provides over 40 diverse activities to children and adults, including multiple sports, social activities, classes in subjects like drama, music, art, and healthy living. The diversity of activities is driven by the members and means choice and inclusion for all, no matter their ability or taste. Their vision is that every person with an intellectual disability in Ireland has a place to develop their abilities and build their self-esteem in an environment that is inclusive and supportive.
Since Lakers was established, membership has grown each year, with significant waiting lists in place for their activities. Lakers provides a strong and supportive network for its 290 members, their families and friends. Their impact is embedded through hundreds of volunteers engaged in Lakers and strong buy-in from the local community. With Lakers, someone with an intellectual disability can explore if they are sporty, musical, artistic, or a talented cook and can continuously challenge themselves. Having established a strong and vibrant club, the time has come to reach other communities across Ireland with this model of inclusion,
choice, and fun.