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February TCAID: In Focus - TCAID supports Operation Transformation Online Leader Ms Una Coates

Ms. Una Coates is an online Operation Transformation Leader 2022. She is from Clondalkin and is an active member of Inclusion Ireland and the Special Olympics.

Una aims to inspire her peers and colleagues with her leadership and her journey. She is very proud of taking part and is delighted with the example she is setting for others and other Special Olympian athletes in Ireland.

To show support for her journey and to acknowledge the leadership Una is demonstrating the Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability (TCAID) held a physical activity class at the Trinity College Dublin Sports Centre on Tuesday 15th February 2022. Una attended with her colleagues and friends from Stewarts Care Ltd. and Special Olympics. She found the event exhilarating and was delighted with the show of support for her inspiring journey.

TCAID Physical Activity Group Photo

The class was led by Ms Louise Lynch (PhD student), Ms Mei Lin Yap (Ambassador Liaison Officer) and Una. Great fun was had on the day by all as evidenced by the pictures below. There was also a serious side to the day, that of inspiring others to get up and move for health. The Intellectual Disability Supplement to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (IDS-TILDA) have identified inactivity as an issue among adults with intellectual disability with over 73% of people reporting low levels of activity in the study below what would be required to accrue health benefit. Considering that inactivity can contribute to poorer health Una’s endeavours to inspire physical activity is to be commended.

In fact according to the World Health Organisation regular physical activity can:
  • improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness;
  • improve bone and functional health;
  • reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer), and depression;
  • reduce the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures; and
  • help maintain a healthy body weight.
Unfortunately, lives are becoming increasingly sedentary. Evidence shows higher amounts of sedentary behaviour are associated with poor health outcomes such as:
  • all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer mortality;
  • ncidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes.

The literature tells us that sedentary behaviour is becoming a much bigger feature in the lives of people with intellectual disability. In fact people with an intellectual disability are spending more than 60% of their free time in sedentary behaviours and scarcely making an average of 6,000 steps per day. Replacing this sedentary behaviour with movement and activity of any type or intensity is something positive that can promote good health. Indeed breaking up long periods of time spent sedentary can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and lower the risk of early death. So let’s kick the sedentary habit and as Una advocates ‘Get up and Move’.


Lynch, L., McCarron, M., McCallion, P. & Burke, E. Sedentary behaviour in adults with an intellectual disability: a systematic review and meta-analysis [version 2; peer review: 1 approved] HRB Open Research, 2021, 4:69. DOI

Want to follow our plan that suits all ability levels? You can download our physical activity plan we followed on the day here:

  • TCAID Physical Activity Plan
  • Check out our video of the day:

    Photo slideshow:

    Special thanks to:

    Una Coates, Ross O'Neill, Catherine Rooney, Wayne Grace, Anita Malone, Grace McCabe, James Byrne and Martin Carolan

    Lauren Waters - APA Co-ordinator Stewarts Care, Hayley Kavanagh - Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator Special Olympics, Carol Hurley - Support Staff Stewarts Care, Aisling Quinn - Support Staff Stewarts Care, Padraig Cantwell - DCU Sports Science and Health Student and Shane Browne - AIT Physical Activity and Health Science Student

    Professor Mary McCarron - Director of TCAID, Ms Michelle Tanner - Head of Sport and Recreation TCD, Ms Rosie King - Business Development Manager TCD, Dr Eilish Burke - Ussher Assistant Professor in Ageing and Intellectual Disability, Ms Louise Lynch - Research Assistant and PhD Student, Mr Gavin Dann - Senior Executive Officer, Ms June O'Reilly - Strategic Support Officer, Ms Mei Lin Yap - Ambassador Liaison Officer and Mr Michael Foley - PPI Ignite Programme Manager

    EIT - P-PALs 2 - People with Intellectual Disabilities as Physical Activity Leaders

    PPALS2 is a leadership programme designed to engage and promote individuals with intellectual disability as physical activity leaders. PPALS has engaged over 100 individuals with intellectual across three countries since 2018. People develop the confidence and leadership to roll out a specially designed and accessibly augmented exercise programme with their peers, based on the PALS programme run by Age & Opportunity. In 2020, despite the COVID pandemic Trinity College Dublin, The University of Barcelona, Technical University Munich and A&O engaged over 56 individuals in the programme. Considering the challenging year this was a great achievement for the team and for those individuals with intellectual disability who led peer to peer activities in their homes and online. Age & Opportunity are now committed to rolling out the programme further. Information about the programme can be read here and on the A&O website here. Please also check out our videos of the PPALS warm up, exercises, games and stretches below.

  • PPALS Warm Up, Exercises and Stretches Videos