In one of the last appointments of his term, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Steven Callaghan, made a special visit to a training session of the Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball Club, a group whom he met as part of his very first official duty as Mayor. Enterprise Causeway extended the invitation to the Mayor, having met, and been inspired by one of its members, Helen Logan, at its International Women’s Day event – CelebrateHER – earlier this year at Ulster University.

“We were instantly taken with Helen’s infectious energy. Spend but one minute in her company and you can see the positive impact of this club, both on Helen’s mental health, and her working/family life. After the event we met up with Helen over a coffee to hear more about the group and when chatting, realised we could provide support through our Connecting Communities project, with mentoring and peer-to-peer clustering. We are very excited to be working alongside members over the next few months.” Jayne Taggart, CEO, Enterprise Causeway.

The Causeway Giants is made up of 26 members, all the way from Larne to Portrush. They come together every Wednesday and Saturday (including Juniors, aged 8+) at Ulster University Coleraine’s fully accessible sports complex, to train, catch-up, share skills and life worries.

Many of the club members have faced significant challenges in their lives, finding the sport, and each other, through the encouragement of others. The focus and happiness that comes not just for members, but for their families and friends, is indescribable.

Describing herself as a very proud member of Causeway Giants for the last 2 years, Helen said: “This club quite literally saved my mental health. I have Spina bifida, but was still on my feet until COVID hit. COVID closed swimming pools, and in turn, stopped my physical exercise. Not having the water to aid my body, I found myself using a stick, which then lead to using crutches, and then, painfully, accepting that a wheelchair was the only aid. The chair was undoubtedly my life changer, helping me live again, but it was not an easy transition. In fact, it was something I, and my family, struggled massively to accept as the new way of life, particularly within a global pandemic. 

“A close friend kept messaging to come along to one of the sessions. It took me 3 months to pluck up the courage to do so! Making my way onto a Basketball court for the first time was something I couldn’t have imagined, but at no point have I looked back!

“I’ve found MY PEOPLE and learned to exercise and play a fantastic sport, on a weekly basis. Being part of a community of people, with a mixture of abilities, really gave me that push to keep going, and it has well and truly changed my life, my husbands, my daughter’s – who comes with me to training sessions and is very much part of the club. I’m Club Secretary, kit washer lady and general Mummy of the Team. They mean the world to me and, together, we saved one another.”

Running for 5 years, club has grown from strength to strength, locally and internationally. It hosted the Disability Sport NI League opening matches at University in September 2023. Taken with the spirit and passion of members in that first appointment, the Mayor attended this important match, and afterwards, held a reception in Councils Civic Headquarters, in Cloonavin in November.

Speaking about these events, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Steven Callaghan, reflected: “On my first day as Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, I had the pleasure of meeting ladies from the Causeway Giant’s Wheelchair Basketball club. The members were an inspiration to me, and I have since had the honour of inviting the whole club to a civic reception at Council headquarters.

“Helen herself is such a dedicated advocate for sport, particularly wheelchair basketball and how it can improve mental health. It is my honour to visit the club again during my last few weeks as Mayor. They are a club that is close my heart and will remain so into the future.”

Excitingly members are also working to expand their youth club.

Last year, through Disability Sport NI, the club was able to purchase 10 chairs for juniors and ever since, have been attracting applicants. One of these is Ethan Pollock, from Portballintrae, whose talent saw him headhunted by the Northern Ireland Sports Academy. Before joining, Ethan was extremely shy before joining the Club – feeling like he could not match the success, or have as much fun, as his sporting brothers, but having seen an advert, Ethan’s mother brought him along to a session, and like with every other member that intrepidly comes along, fell head over wheels with the sport, and the people.

If you are interested in joining the adult Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball Club, or if you are a parent/guardian of someone aged 8 years and above, who would be interested in joining the youth section, then get in touch via the teams Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057768365966