€3 million funding boost for 20 initiatives working with people with disabilities across Ireland 

Pictured at the launch of Rethink Ireland’s Disability Participation and Awareness Fund are (l-r): Therese Coveney, Founder, Together Academy; Ben Purcell, Staff, Happy Out x Together Academy; Tom McDonough, Staff, Happy Out x Together Academy; Miriam Quinn, Staff, Happy Out x Together Academy; Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland; Ciara Donohoe, Staff, Happy Out x Together Academy and Sam Murphy, Staff, Happy Out x Together Academy. Together Academy is one of twenty innovative organisations around the country that will be awarded under this €3 million Rethink Ireland fund. Pic: Marc O'Sullivan

20 innovative organisations across the country providing vital community initiatives for people with disabilities will be awarded under a €3 million Rethink Ireland fund, it was announced today. The Disability Participation and Awareness Fund will support twenty projects across four key strands: enabling participation of people with Down Syndrome in their communities; supporting social enterprise driven employment for people with disabilities; increasing access to arts and culture; and fostering participation in sports and outdoor recreation as well as the promotion of accessible shared spaces.

The Rethink Ireland Fund, in partnership with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, will address the urgent needs of people with disabilities, breaking down barriers that they face across a multitude of areas, supporting tangible additions to existing community organisations. Among the 20 non-profit organisations that will receive funding are Together Academy, which supports young adults with Down Syndrome with certified training, work experience and employment opportunities; the Notes & Signs project by Music & Health Ireland, for equity of access to live music performances and learning opportunities in the d/Deaf community; and the Embers project by Active Connections, engaging people living with a disability or neurodiverse diagnoses, safely in the outdoors.

Anne Rabbitte TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, commented: “For a long time, disability has been viewed purely as a ‘health’ issue, when in fact this is an equality issue. When I sought to establish the Disability Participation and Awareness Fund, I wanted to develop a support mechanism for the wonderful initiatives that I knew were happening around the country to support people with disabilities to have equal access in their communities. I knew there were exciting programmes there to uncover and these 20 diverse projects prove that. The awardees are focussed on equal access to things like the arts, culture, and outdoor recreation – things that most of us take for granted – and I know we’ll see amazing results and tangible change delivered.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland said: “I am delighted to announce that 20 non-profit organisations will be funded to provide support to people with disabilities in communities across Ireland. This increase in support has been targeted at projects which will build skills and remove barriers for people with disabilities, expanding their ability to take part in their communities. I am looking forward to seeing what impact these projects will have on the lives of so many.”

The full list of awarded projects is available at: https://rethinkireland.ie/awarded_fund/the-disability-participation-and-awareness-fund-2023/