Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD, visited Killaloe in County Clare today to see at first hand the benefits of Healthy Ireland funding for local and voluntary groups in Clare.
The Minister was greeted by the Cathaoirleach and Elected Members of Clare County Council, Clare Oireachtas Members, and local representatives and stakeholders, together with staff from Clare County Council and representatives of the wider community in Killaloe.
Derg Athletics Club, which received €22,000 of the total €374,100 allocated to County Clare under Healthy Ireland funding, hosted the Minister’s visit. Established in 2013, Derg Athletics Club offers physical activity programmes for all in a fun environment in Clarisford Park, Killaloe. Healthy Ireland funding is helping to sustain the club’s inclusive athletics programmes and is essential to enabling participation in athletics activities for children with a physical disability or those on the autism spectrum. It is available to all children living in Clare, Limerick and north Tipperary.
The funding has supported Derg Athletics Club in promoting its inclusive athletics programmes, resulting in increased participation across the various programmes. Some of the programmes offered by Derg Athletics Club with thanks to Healthy Ireland funding include Juvenile and Little Athletics, Fit4Teens, Fitness for Team Sports, Couch to 5K, Fit4Life, Five Miler Run/Walk & 1km Kids Run, and the Development Squad.
The importance of physical activity for all is a key priority in the Healthy Clare Strategic Plan 2019-2021 and Derg Athletics Club is just one example of how physical activity is being supported by Healthy Ireland in Clare.
Speaking during today’s visit, Minister Feighan said: “We want to promote and raise awareness of the importance of physical activity at all stages of life and for all abilities. It is vital that we remove barriers and reduce inequalities that exist around accessing sports. This is one of the core aims of Healthy Ireland – to ensure that no one gets left behind, and I am delighted that Healthy Ireland funding has been involved in helping to sustain these programmes.”
Cllr PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, highlighted the benefits of Healthy Ireland funding in County Clare, saying: “Derg Athletics Club, like other community organisations all around County Clare, is empowered by Healthy Ireland funding. This enables the club to deliver tangible supports to meet the health and wellbeing needs of its communities. This funding is very much welcomed in Clare.”
Paul Patton, Chair of the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), said: “I wish to acknowledge the Minister’s continued support for the Healthy Ireland programme and the role of the Healthy Ireland Co-ordinators. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we expect the upcoming Round 4 of Healthy Ireland funding to be that lifeline that many community and voluntary groups need, particularly in a post-Covid environment.”
Deirdre Coleman, Chairperson of Derg Athletics Club, said: “Derg Athletics Club would like to acknowledge the importance of the Healthy Ireland funding for the club. It has been a lifeline for us and has enabled us to run various events, including a virtual marathon during Covid-19 restrictions last year. The funding has allowed us to develop a training app, implement a parent and coach education programme and purchase much-needed equipment for our newly renovated track and field at Clarisford Park.
“We are the first inclusive athletics club in Clare and the Healthy Ireland community engagement funding has been invaluable in helping us promote the various activities and events we host, allowing our Derg Athletics Club community to grow.”