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Name: Edel Convery
Current voluntary roles in sport: Founder Straight2Swimming
INTRODUCTION TO VOLUNTEERING
1.What playing experience did you have prior to your voluntary roles within City of Belfast Swimming Club? (briefly mention netball/swimming personal achievements)
Before volunteering I competed in both swimming and netball, reaching a good standard in both, Irish level in Swimming and Ulster level in netball.
2.What first attracted you to volunteering in swimming? (pass on knowledge, pathway to employment etc)
Honestly, I never seen myself continuing in sport after I left swimming, as I quit due to injury, but I did go back to swimming to keep fit in university. That was when I was asked if I could help some of the other coaches with their sessions. At first I was doing as it would help with future employment but now 4 years later I have my own squad and really love it.
3.What coaching/administrative qualifications did you have prior to your various roles? If none, how were you supported in carrying out your voluntary roles?
The only qualification I had prior to starting my role was a level 1 swim teacher. However, I did have 10 years’ experience as a swimmer. Therefore, that give me confidence to take up my role within the club.
4. How long have you been involved in your voluntary positions in swimming and what has sustained your involvement?
I have been part of the Straight2Swimming programme from the start, 3 years ago. To see these amazing children come week after week to swim under the expert guidance of their very own coaching team makes it all worth while. Their progress has been immense. All the children have demonstrated improved fitness and swimming skills but more importantly self esteem. They and their parents have been able to support each other, sometimes through major surgery and realise they are not alone.
5. Have you gained additional qualifications in your voluntary roles? (Swim Ireland coaching awards etc.)
During the course of running S2S on a voluntary basis, I have been lucky enough to be nominated with the team for the Irish Medical Times Award where we were successful winning the best non Pharma patient education award. Following on from this we were honoured with Sport NI coaching award in recognition of our fantastic coaches.
6. Besides additional qualifications, what have you gained in these experiences? (Personal development, employability, new friendships, enjoyment, growth of Straight2Swimming project)
I have laughed and cried with some of the most inspirational people and children who have given me an even greater love of life. I have become accustomed to
standing up and speaking to people confidently about swimming and Scoliosis. We are currently preparing to launch S2S in Cork and are planning a huge all Ireland Scoliosis Swimming Games.
I have my name on the list to complete my Level 1 Swim Teaching qualification. Next year, with 10 Scoliosis children and some of our swimming coaches I will
attempt to summit Kilimanjaro in Africa. I guess to put that in perspective just over 3 years ago I worked full time, carried out the usual household chores and
walked the dog!
7. Greatest moment as a volunteer? (S2S project nominated for an award, success of the project etc).
Wining the Sport NI Coaching Award in recognition of what our S2S coaching team have achieved in their work with these children and seeing how they have embraced what was initially a daunting task. To see our S2S coaches so inspired by the amazing resilience of the Scoliosis children and to themselves advocate on behalf of children with Scoliosis.
To Quote from a parent of a child with Scoliosis; “ This programme has helped her re-engage with sport, regain body confidence and make new friends. I cannot tell you what this means to me as a parent”
9. What are the three best things about volunteering in sport?
It keeps me engaged and motivated.
It introduces me to incredible people from all walks of life.
I have learned there is no such thing as Can’t!
10. What advice would you provide to other women and girls considering a voluntary role in sport? (given the typical barriers, such as balancing a full-time job or studies, no coaching badges etc.)
After spending my life listening to people tell me it only takes one person to make the first step I stopped listening and took that step into what has become one of my proudest achievements. Three years ago I would never have imagined how much help and encouragement would flood through the doors of Straight2Swimming. There is something very rewarding and Blessed seeing over 150 children and young people no longer hiding their scoliosis but talking about it, dealing with it and encouraging others.
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