It’s a long way to Tipperary, but the judges made the trip on 20 June to meet with the Gold Star Initiative
The Cashel Town Gold Star Initiatives have been hugely successful in the last few years. They were founded in 2006 and the general aim of the group is to raise disability awareness in the community through partnership and cooperation.
The judges were treated to a presentation which outlined the work done by the initiative and its aims. The entire Gold Star project in Cashel is built around focusing on the person at the centre of services and explores how the environment can be improved to ensure full and meaningful participation of people with disabilities in communities. The group was begun by a public meeting in 2006 to discuss the issues facing people with disabilities in the area. Since its inception, the Gold Star Initiative has had many achievements, including the launch of the Gold Star Guidelines Booklet in 2010 and the Gold Star Logo school competition in 2007.
The initiative also helps to run and promote courses in disability studies for all members of the community. The emphasis on education means that those who partake benefit with a qualification as well as being great ambassadors for the Tipperary community.
It’s the Little Things
As well as big community outreaches, the judges learnt that the initiative also focuses on the everyday things that make people with disabilities feel more comfortable. This in turn means that the community becomes more integrated and whole.
By educating the community, the Gold Star Initiative aims to teach people about the common steps they can take when interacting with people who are disabled:
- Never talk to the person through a friend or companion, communicate directly
- Never avert your eyes
- Don’t feel the need to speak slower in conversation
Working with all members of the community – from the elderly to school children, the Gold Star Initiative makes sure the people of Tipperary do everything they can to integrate and facilitate disabled people. One of the biggest examples of this is the successful installation of a ramp at a local AIB bank. The previously inaccessible building is now much more aware of the needs of the whole community. The presentation also highlighted some of the remaining buildings with no ramp facilities, highlighting the ongoing need for community effort and cooperation.
It’s these simple but effective things that have made the Gold Star Initiative stand out. The judges could see that the initiative had a long-term effect on the community in relation to attitudes to people with disabilities. The volunteers present demonstrated how much effort they were willing to put in to help those people who may need help in their community.
The Judges left knowing that the involvement and assistance of disabled residents of Tipperary were in very capable hands.