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Wellbeing and social care at the heart of Irish government’s 10-year physical activity plan

By Matthew Campelli    15 Jan 2016
Paschal Donohoe said the strategy was a 'great example of cross-sectoral cooperation and partnership'

The Irish government has ring-fenced an initial €5.5m (£4.2m, US$6m) for 2016 in a bid to get 500,000 more people involved with regular physical activity over the next 10 years.

Ireland launched its first ever National Physical Activity Plan which aims to join the dots between sport and physical activity, health, and social care and mental wellbeing to increase participation and counter health concerns. Evidence shows that only 32 per cent of Irish adults are meeting the national physical activity recommendations, while one in four children are unfit, overweight or obese.

Around 19 per cent of primary and 12 per cent of post-primary school children meet the physical activity recommendations, while 10 per cent of active sports participants at primary school level have dropped out of sport by their first year after leaving.

Sport Ireland and the national governing bodies will distribute the fund, with an emphasis on engaging with “disadvantaged communities” which are likely to have more inactive individuals.

Health professionals will receive further training on using physical activity to prevent or treat chronic conditions, and money will go towards initiatives such as Get Ireland Walking, Get Ireland Swimming, Get Ireland Cycling and Get Ireland Running.

The plan was delivered by sports ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael Ring, health minister Leo Varadkar, and mental health and social care minister Kathleen Lynch.

Donohoe said €4m (£3m, US$4.4m) of funding would be provided for sporting measures in 2016, with €1m (£758,950, US$1.1m) spent on Sport Ireland’s programme for the employment of multi-sports development officers, with a further €3m (£2.3m, US$3.3m) set aside for sports initiatives designed for disadvantaged communities.

“The plan aims to increase participation levels across all of the population but we recognise that specific targeted initiatives may be required to increase participation levels and to narrow the gap across some groups,” he added.

Part of the strategy involves providing more physical activity for people with mental or physical disabilities. At school level, a new PE curriculum and the implementation of a new school subject titled ‘Wellbeing’ to be launched next September.

The joined up nature of the plan bears similarities with the UK government’s own sport strategy – Sporting Future – which was published last month. An implementation group will now be set up led jointly by the Department of Health and the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport. The plan will be assessed against yet-to-be determined targets after three years.

Irish government  National Physical Activity Plan  health  wellbeing  Paschal Donohoe 
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