Beyond Limits is an event hosted by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office for children and young people with disabilities, showing them the opportunities open to them, talking about the issues they want to talk about and highlighting inclusiveness.
This year, we have two fantastic events taking place in Sligo (Atlantic Technological University Sligo) on October 1 and Limerick (University of Limerick) on October 15.
We’ll hear from a range of young people with disabilities about their experiences, achievements and hopes for young people with disabilities growing up in Ireland.
We’ll also be joined by various groups and organisations from across the country that cater to everyone’s needs and will offer workshops and tasters into their work; including the IRFU, Gymnastics Ireland, the GAA and more!
Beyond Limits is not just an event. . We want to generate a conversation about disability and how it affects young people in Ireland. We want to show others how they can include children with disabilities on a large scale and we want to leave behind a lasting legacy that promotes inclusion on all levels.
“Loved the variety of speakers. Amazing variety of activities during break times”
“I liked how the kids/children were heavily involved it wasn't all adults speaking to adults”
“It was amazing to hear directly from all the children and young people with disabilities who have achieved so much, it was inspirational. It was great that the event was so inclusive and accessible.”
“Very family friendly for all ages, entertainment was really good.”
“The event was very relaxed, inclusive and entertaining”
“Excellent opportunity for people with disabilities and even those without, creating awareness, listening to the journeys, experiences and stories. Please make this an annual event!”
“It was family oriented and not just for the individual with the disability.”
To help us organise Beyond Limits, we have created a Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) of eight young people of all abilities.
They advise us on how they want the event to be run, who they want to see, and what activities should be available to young people.
We meet with our YAP every month to update them on our progress and make sure they have their say in Beyond Limits 2022.
Many of our YAP members will be taking to the stage for Beyond Limits to tell their story of living with a disability as a young person in Ireland.
Music Generation is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme that gives children and young people access to high-quality, subsidised performance music education. Music Generation believes in every child and young person’s musical potential and their innate artistry that it is every child and young person’s right to have the choice of access and the chance to participate as a musical citizen.
Adam O Brien is a 28 year old hailing from the county of Dublin and who has Autism. Adam also has Dyspraxia and a generalised anxiety disorder. Adam has not let his difficulties hold him back. At Beyond Limits, Adam will talk about himself, some of his achievements and how he has managed to overcome barriers he continues to face daily.
At Beyond Limits, the IRFU will show you what rugby has to offer. The IRFU currently have over 850+ players in their disability tag teams around Ireland and a further 700+ players that access the game that have a disability in many different areas and roles.
In 2012 Jack Kavanagh suffered a life changing spinal cord injury leaving him with 15% muscle function, in the years since Jack has challenged the perceived limitations of his situation. In 2014 Jack gave the acclaimed TEDx Talk "Fearless Like A Child, Overcoming Adversity" and in 2019 was awarded as one of "Ten Outstanding Young People Of The Year". Jack has also received several international awards for his documentary Breaking Boundaries. Jack is passionate about the value of health & wellbeing as drivers for business performance coupled with cultivating diverse & inclusive environments where people belong and are valued. Jack is host of the Only Human Podcast and sits on the board of directors of the National Disability Authority and Center for Excellence in Universal Design as well as leadership development organisation Common Purpose Ireland.
James Casserly believes that everyone should have an equal chance in life regardless of your ability. James is a football coach and currently travelling 32 county’s of Ireland on public transport. James has Cerebral Palsy and Polyarticular Juvenile Arthritis. He is a power chair user and attends Crumlin Children’s Hospital every second Wednesday for his infusions.
Paddy Smyth will be our MC for Beyond Limits Sligo. On his social media with the hashtag #mydisabledlife Paddy showcases that you can still live life to the full no matter what barriers are in your way and in general creating positive disability awareness. His positive attitude is inspiring to many. Paddy has appeared on TV shows such as First Dates, The Circle, and The Fitting Room.
Eve McCrystal and Katie-George Dunlevy have been amongst the most successful Para Athletes ever to represent Ireland having medalled consistently at World and Paralympic Games since 2014. Katie-George was diagnosed with a genetic, progressive eye condition RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) at the age of 11 but hasn’t let that stop her achieving.
The Bluestack choir is a fun celebration of music for people of all abilities. The choir provides a safe environment for self-expression while building confidence, improving social skills, communication, and inspiring creativity. We pride ourselves on being inclusive and use Lamh signs for many of our songs, so we are also accessible to those who are non-verbal.
GAA for All is a family of initiatives in the GAA encompassing Wheelchair Hurling and Camogie, Football for all, Fun and Run, “All Star” Inclusive clubs, Cúl 4 All / Cúl Eile Camps and intercultural activities.
Ellen Keane is four-time Paralympian and a Paralympic Swimming Gold Medallist (Tokyo 2020) and Bronze Medallist (Rio 2016). The 27 year old Dubliner is also a multiple World & European Medallist. In 2022 she took on a new challenge and became the first ever contest with a disability to take part in Dancing with the Stars making it through to the Grand Finale. A strong voice in advocating for greater visibility and understanding of those with disabilities she is willing to call out ableism. Ellen is passionate about speaking on disability and positive body image. Having opened up about her life journey she believes in the power of sharing stories to help to make a positive difference to society.
Fiacre Ryan is 21-year-old autistic writer and poet from Castlebar, Co. Mayo. He is non-verbal, but can communicate with an alphabet letter board and keyboard devices. In 2018, he became the first non-verbal autistic student to sit the Leaving Cert exams. In March of this year, he scripted his own documentary “Speechless” for RTE, which told the story of his life, filmed over 8 years. He is currently writing his first book of poetry and reflections on life, due to be published later this year.
In 2017, Ian was in a bike accident that resulted in him becoming paralysed from the shoulders down. He has appeared on the Late Late show and presents his own show on Radio Kerry called ‘Stand Out with Ian O’Connell’.
Mark is an award winning actor and founding member of Run of the Mill Theatre. Mark was nominated for Best Performer at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2019 for his work on autobiographical, documentary theatre piece Making a Mark (winner of Judges Choice Award, nominated for Best Production). Mark has recently completed a nine venue national tour of this production. He recently performed in short films Headspace, Outside History (St Patricks Festival, 2021), Vulnerable (Abbey Theatre, Dear Ireland 3 commission) and Quarantine (Culture Night Commission, 2020). He regularly advocates for artists with Down Syndrome and disabilities in National media and was featured to widespread acclaim on the The Tommy Tiernan Show (Season 4, 2020). Mark also has a Diploma in Anthropology through NUI Maynooth.
A student in Knockainey National School, 12 year old Padraig is probably best known for his role as the host of the Monday Motivation ‘Paudcast’. This series of 60 second motivational clips is now heading into it’s fifth season and has garnered worldwide acclaim. These clips of positivity are released every week on his website Paudcast.ie and across his social media channels. Padraig loves promoting the message of inclusion, diversity and ability. He may have Down syndrome, but he is a huge believer in the adage that disability should not mean inability. Padraig has received numerous awards including Limerick person of the year earlier this year.
Rhythm Room was set up in 2009 by Nicola Kealy and Mischa O' Mahony in response to the need for an accessible training programme for Actors with an intellectual disability. Their work is inclusive, which means they work with non-disabled and disabled actors. The work they create focuses on the ability of all their actors and their unique view of and approach to this tricky business we call 'life'.
Una Curran and runs Finding Your Wings teaching Mindfulness and Well-being to children, teenagers, educators and parents. The programme she teaches in Pre-schools, Schools and family sessions is based on her own teaching experience in a variety of educational settings, being a parent and her professional training over many years.
Colman Noctor is a psychotherapist, assistant professor of mental health, and author. Dr. Noctor is particularly interested in the impact of technology on our mental health – on things such as childhood development, wellbeing and relationships, but also on our work lives. Dr. Noctor became interested in child and teenage mental health after a period spent working as a psychiatric nurse in the UK.
Table Tennis Ireland is the National Governing Body for Para Table Tennis. Para table tennis is the third largest Paralympic Sport in terms of athlete numbers and is practiced in more than 100 countries. Table tennis is one of the most adaptable and inclusive sports there is for people with all kinds of disabilities. Whether you want to play for fun or competitively, opportunities exist for everyone.