The Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton, and the Minister for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne have today launched the Get Ireland Walking strategy 2023-2027 and announced Healthy Ireland funding of €1.46 million to Sport Ireland for 2023.
Get Ireland Walking was established in 2013 with the support of Healthy Ireland and Sport Ireland, with the objective of supporting and unifying the efforts of the range of actors involved in the promotion of walking in Ireland.
The new strategy builds on the work completed over the last 10 years and guided by international best practice, sets out an ambitious set of objectives for the next four years centred around a collaborative partnership approach.
Speaking at the launch of the Strategy, Minister Naughton announced a special funding allocation for Sport Ireland of €1,460,246 from the Healthy Ireland Fund for a range of targeted initiatives promoting physical activity during 2023 including Get Ireland Walking.
Minister Naughton said: “The promotion of physical activity is one of my priorities as Minister for Public Health and Wellbeing. I am very pleased to announce this significant funding, which will support a wide range of projects and programmes designed to help people living in all communities to become more active, more often.
“Sport Ireland has been a strong partner of the health and wellbeing objectives of both Healthy Ireland and our national sports policies. There are clear synergies from working with the national governing bodies to support all physical activity including walking, running, swimming and cycling.
“The collaborative approach set out in the Get Ireland Walking strategy will help deliver a wide range of initiatives to support physical activity from a health and wellbeing perspective, enabling people to live healthier lives. The promotion of physical activity is one of the cornerstones of the Healthy Ireland initiative, given its capacity to help people to live healthier lifestyles and to reduce the onset or manage the impacts of chronic conditions.”
Minister Byrne welcomed the dedicated additional funding from Healthy Ireland and especially the partnership ethos that it illustrates, and stated: “Sport is not just about competition and winning, it’s about so much more. Sport has multiple benefits, not least its overwhelmingly positive impact on an individual’s personal physical health and mental wellbeing. I believe that it is important for all government departments and agencies, with an interest in promoting physically active lifestyles, to work together and collaborate more closely than ever before.
“The funding being announced today by my colleague, Minister Naughton, is an example of such collaboration in action, involving our two Departments, Sport Ireland and the Health Service Executive (HHSE). This funding complements the continued investment that Sport Ireland makes in promoting grassroots or recreational sporting activities across over 60 different sports, including walking. Walking is one of the popular forms of exercise in Ireland and this additional funding is most welcome.”
Minister Naughton acknowledged the strong work carried out to date by Get Ireland Walking, and that walking has so many spin off benefits, exercise and keeping fit, the social aspect and of course, being one with nature.
CEO of Sport Ireland Dr Una May said: “According to Sport Ireland’s latest research, the Irish Sports Monitor 2022, recreational walking is the most popular form of physical activity in the country with 2.77 million people actively participating. Recreational Walking is now more widespread than it was before the pandemic and the new Get Ireland Walking strategy will allow us to capitalise on this increased interest.
“I look forward to seeing the strategy in action through innovative and community-based programmes delivered through Local Sports Partnerships and National Governing Bodies. I also welcome the new round of Healthy Ireland funding which further strengthens the collaborative relationships between Government Departments and Sport Ireland.”
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