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*Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD (centre), visited Clarisford Park, Killaloe where he was hosted by Derg Athletics Club and greeted by the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan (right). Photo: Eamon Ward.

Physical activity’s importance in reducing barriers at all age-groups was emphasised by Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy during a visit to Clare on Friday.

Junior Minister, Frank Feighan (FG) was in Lees Rd, Ennis and Clarisford Park, Killaloe on Friday where he was greeted by the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) plus Clare’s Oireachtas members, county councillors and community representatives.

Speaking during his visit, the Junior Minister stated, “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”.

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.

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.

Funding from Healthy Ireland empowers communities, Cllr Ryan remarked. “This enables the club to deliver tangible supports to meet the health and wellbeing needs of its communities”.

“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,” Paul Patton, Chair of the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) outlined.

Chairperson of Derg Athletics Club, Deirdre Coleman said the funding had been “a lifeline for us”. She added, “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.”

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