A local girl is getting ready to compete in the Special Olympics Ireland Games.
Alison McKinley will take part in the kayaking event at the Ireland Games which is being held from June 14 to 16.
The 22-year-old has autism and some learning difficulties.
She has been kayaking now for two years as part of Newry City AFC Special Olympic Club.
Her mum Rosalind said that joining the club has proved invaluable in helping Alison develop her social skills and build long lasting friendships.
She said: “The whole club has helped her to be more sociable.
“She has made lots of friends,
“The water seems to relax her.
“The sport has provided an all over effect for Alison, it really benefits her.
“To see her enjoying herself and going from a child who had no speech and was living in a world of her own at one stage to what she has grown into - a young lady, enjoying being with other people through sport.
“We never thought it would happen, she doesn’t take the love of sport after her parents, she totally enjoys it.”
Rosalind added: “She absolutely loves it, she goes out to the club every week, been doing it for two years with the club.”
Special Olympics Ireland Games take place in Dublin with 1,600 athletes competing for their region.
The Newry Club will be well represented at the games with many of Alison’s club mates joining her in various competitions.
Rosalind was keen to praise the club for their efforts and all the good work they do in inspiring and supporting their members.
The proud mum added: “The coaches are so fantastic with her and all of the members of the club.
“The Special Olympic club in Newry have been fantastic.”
Alison will have plenty of support at the games, her mum and dad will be travelling down for the opening ceremony.
Other family members are going to the event to watch her compete and cheer her on.
Rosalind said: “For the opening ceremony it will just be my husband, Colin, and myself, but for the events there will probably be other family cheering her on.”
For more information on Special Olympics Ireland visit irelandgames.ie.