A mix of local community, county and national stakeholder representatives attended the launch at the stunning €2.5m sport and recreation facility at Clarisford Park which was launched in September 2016 by the then Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
Speaking at the launch, Director Clarisford Park and Chair Healthy Ireland, Keith Wood spoke about community leadership and initiative as a conduit for change in health and wellbeing at a local level. He welcomed the support from Healthy Ireland, Sport Ireland, Clare Sports Partnership and the work of Nollaig O’Sullivan, Exercise Psychologist in producing a template that will best serve communities and groups across the country.
He concluded that the launch is a ‘celebration of the community of Killaloe Ballina, the partnerships and togetherness that have formed throughout the process and an acknowledgement of the power of community coming together to deliver a legacy project with far reaching impacts into the future.’
Exercise Psychologist and Community Sports Hub Coordinator, Nollaig O’Sullivan stated that the ‘The Healthy Killaloe Ballina initiative is about embracing what communities have to offer, creating a community awareness of the valuable assets in their locality, whether it be facilities, local sports groups, natural resources or individuals in the pursuit of health and wellbeing was key.’
Research carried out over a 2-year period assessed the baseline health and wellbeing levels of the community prior to the implementation of physical activity and wellbeing programmes with built in psychological aspects targeted at specific groups and needs within the community.
People from Killaloe Ballina with a specialism in health and wellbeing were encouraged to participate and help create and deliver health and wellbeing programmes to improve and enhance the long term healthy lifestyle behaviour of people at all stages of life in the community.
The collaborative approach to community engagement was highlighted by John Sweeney, Clare Sports Partnership who acknowledged that ‘the important key is building and creating partnerships, this can promote funding, expertise, recruitment of community members and use of local facilities.’
Through the establishment of community based health promotion and wellbeing the Healthy Killaloe Ballina initiative serves as a model of best practice and as a blueprint for the creation of like minded healthy communities that can be rolled out across the island of Ireland
Fiona Donovan from Healthy Cities and Counties Network concluded that seeing first-hand the impact of the Healthy Killaloe Ballina Initiative over the past 24 months ‘has brought people of all ages together to pursue health and wellbeing as a common goal, building on community spirit, cooperation and collaboration’ This is truly what a Healthy Community should strive to be.