There's something for everyone at SeaFest 2018, taking place in Galway Harbour from 29th June to 1st July. To ensure the festivities can be enjoyed by as many visitors as possible, this year's national maritime festival is offering activities specifically for children with sensory issues, and water sports sessions for children and adults with disabilities or impairments.
Irish Sailing, and its team of volunteers from sailing clubs across Galway, are offering fully inclusive access to Try Sailing sessions over the three days of the festival.
Mr Ciarán Murphy, National Inclusion and Children's Officer at Irish Sailing said, "We want everyone to be able to experience the thrill of being out on the water, and SeaFest offers a fantastic opportunity for children and adults with disabilities or impairments to try sailing or kayaking in a safe and supported environment."
"Sailing offers a sense of freedom like no other sport, and is a great healthy outdoor and social activity. We hope our budding sailors enjoy the experience and will join us again in Galway for the Watersports Inclusion Games at the end of August," Mr Murphy said.
Galway City Museum will be hosting five workshops specifically for children with sensory difficulties and their siblings. Led by Áine Lawless of Macnas, children can create colourful fish and other sea-themed creatures to take home. Volunteers from Galway Autism Partnership will provide assistance during each of the workshops.
Ms Aisling Colreavy, Coordinator at Galway Autism Partnership said, "We are delighted to be part of SeaFest this year, and have an activity especially for children on the autism spectrum, and their siblings. Peer support is invaluable to our members, as these activities are a great opportunity to make connections with families and individuals in similar situations is very important in terms and understanding."
As part of SeaFest 2018, a purpose-built marquee 'The Atlantic Theatre' will showcase talks from multi-award winning cameraman Doug Allan, and screenings of the documentary Ireland's Deep Atlantic and popular Irish animation Song of the Sea. The Atlantic Theatre will be fitted with Loop Hearing to assist the hearing impaired.
SeaFest 2018 will offer a weekend of seafaring fun for those of all ages, with thrilling performances from world-class Flyboarders, live seafood cookery demonstrations, vessel tours, a Defence Forces display and a host of marine-themed workshops for kids.
SeaFest 2018 is a key part of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth: An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland (HOOW) and its goal of increasing participation and engagement with the sea.
The Marine Institute co-ordinates SeaFest on behalf of the cross-government Marine Coordination Group, working together with a wide range of agencies and organisations. SeaFest has received support from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Bord Bia, Commissioners of Irish Lights, Department of Defence, Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Port of Galway, Irish Coast Guard, Irish Sailing, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Department Agriculture Food and the Marine, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, Ireland's European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes 2014-2020.