Shamrock Squad is a community of families and friends with added needs on a mission to make the outdoors inclusive for all levels. They organise judgment-free hikes to allow their members to enjoy nature and support each other; they leave no one behind, regardless of disability.

Alina Barone of Shamrock Squad said:

“Despite inclement weather, both Sunflower and Shamrocks remain strong to warm the hearts of those who watch them. Our organisations, working together, can provide support to enable people with all disabilities to become stronger and more comfortable with their issues.”

Tristan Casson-Rennie, Regional Director of Hidden Disabilities for Ireland and Northern Ireland, said:

Working with Shamrock Squad is inspiring. I first met Vika and Alina at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Ideas Academy. I got a real sense of their passion for encouraging and helping families with additional needs to have a break from the routine of life. The walks are amazing, well-planned and inclusive of everyone, especially discovering parts of the Irish countryside that we sometimes pass through. Shamrock Squad are great ambassadors for   HD Sunflower in Ireland, and we welcome them as our first regional partner."

The walks

The Trial-Review walk is an exclusive adventure for core members and staff of Shamrock Squad. These walks are usually held as part of our preparation for a support walk. However, we also invite partner organisations seeking our feedback to improve their placements. Through these walks, we provide feedback and create more inclusive environments that serve the needs of all.

The open walk is spontaneous and informal, and we ventured with the information we collected online about the location. We usually organise these walks several times a month in Ireland and advertise them online in advance. Anyone with additional needs and their families, carers or friends can join us for these walks and explore nature while enjoying the company of like-minded people.

Our support walks are scheduled quarterly and we prepare for them months in advance. These walks usually occur in familiar locations previously scouted by the Shamrock Squad. We created a social story, adjusted maps, and provided an I-Spy nature chart to help anyone with additional needs and their families, caregivers, or friends prepare for the trek. During these walks we invite representatives of support organisations, including Family Carers Ireland, HD Ireland, FASD Ireland and others. Everyone can learn more about the services provided by these organisations and ask questions if they want to.

Throughout our hikes, we follow the seven 'Leave No Trace' principles, engaging in litter collection as we go. Everyone enjoys this activity, which is usually the day's highlight. At the end of each walk, we enjoy a picnic where everyone can relax, rest and share their experiences.

For more information on Shamrock Squad, click here.