A new all out trekking project – the first of its kind in the UK and Ireland – has been launched at Gosford Forest Park after a major cash investment.
The Department for Communities and Sport NI have pumped £250,000 into the project, which is being delivered by Disability Sport NI and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
It provides an inclusive opportunity for people of all abilities – 12 years and above – to access the forest’s walking and mountain biking trails together.
The project is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and Ireland with the battery-operated Terrain Hopper and Quadrix all-terrain vehicles that are particularly suitable for people with a disability, long term health condition or restricted mobility to access off-road terrains.
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities said the specialist equipment will provide people with a disability access to trails and forest paths which have not been previously accessible.
He added: “The project will really push the boundaries for those with restricted mobility and open up opportunities to share new experiences with friends and family.
“This equipment, and the infrastructure that is being put in place to support it, will have an impact across Northern Ireland and beyond. The All Out Trekking Initiative really does promote Active Living: No Limits.”
Disability Sport NI Chief Executive Kevin O’Neill also welcomed the investment.
She said: “There has been significant investment by the Department for Communities and Sport NI into the disability sports sector in recent years through the Active Living: No Limits 2021 Action Plan and this latest initiative brings the total investment to £1.5 million.
“The Action Plan to get more people with a disability in Northern Ireland engaged in sport and active recreation has been a total game changer for disability sports in Northern Ireland and we would encourage everyone to try this exciting new experience.”
Hosting the launch, Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell added: “Gosford Forest Park is a fantastic facility and with this new initiative it brings a unique outdoor experience for people with a disability to enjoy the already popular walking and biking trails with family and friends.
“We are thrilled this is the first project of its kind in Northern Ireland and we hope Gosford will act as a hub to bring local people and visitors to experience this wonderful inclusive facility.
“We are delighted to work in partnership with Disability NI to deliver this project but it could not be made possible without the funding, support and vision from the Department of Communities and Sport NI who have invested significantly in this project.”
Speaking at the launch Jayne Moore, Capital Sports Development Officer from Sport Northern Ireland, said they were delighted to have worked with Disability Sport NI and the ABC Council on this “innovative project”.
She said: “It will now provide opportunities to access forest trails that were previously totally inaccessible to most people with disabilities.
“With the provision of this off-road all-terrain equipment, people with disabilities will be able to participate in walking and mountain biking activities with family and friends, using disability specific equipment.
“The project has also provided standard mountain bikes which can be used by able bodied people to accompany their family member who is using the all-terrain equipment. This fantastic project gives people an opportunity to participate and enjoy in a range of outdoor activities.”
All Out Trekking is now open for taking bookings. To find out more about All Out Trekking and to book please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9046 9925.