The covid pandemic has had a devastating effect on so many aspects of life, but none more so than in the homeless sector. Extra pressure has been placed on existing services, while others have had to suspend their support altogether.
Little Fitness falls into the latter category – run by Santry woman Sinéad Ryan. Sinéad has over 20 years experience in the fitness industry and obtained her degree in (BSC)Sport and Physical Education in 2005.
It was a chance encounter that made her want to reach out to homeless children in the first place. A pair of brothers who were living in temporary accommodation joined a fitness class she was running, and Sinéad could see the need straight away.
The programme brings primary-age children from homeless families together to learn about their bodies, health and nutrition, and to enjoy fun games and activities along with their peers.
Meanwhile their parents and guardians are able to enjoy a cup of tea, a child-free chat and a chance to freshen up, safe in the knowledge that their kids are being well looked after.
It’s important, too, that parents are on board and supportive, and so Sinéad makes it a priority.
“They want the same opportunities for their children that any other child outside of homelessness is experiencing,” she explains. “It’s important for me to be engaging with the parents and having the community meetings to let them know that this is a start of a journey for them"
“I wanted to give something to children that was more than fitness,” says Sinéad. “It's an educational programme, without being competitive, that everybody could get something out of"