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Date: 23-06-2023

On Thursday June 22, 2023, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton TD visited Achill to launch Slaintecare Healthy Communities Enhancement Scheme: Fit Stick Walking Trails.

The trails are a series of short walking trails designed to cater to individuals with mobility challenges.  These trails incorporate rest areas and exercise stations at regular intervals, allowing participants to take breaks, relax and appreciate the surrounding natural beauty. 

Minister Naughton was welcomed to the event by the Leas Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne; Cllr Paul McNamara; Director of Services of Mayo County Council, Joanne Grehan and Senior Executive Officer, Community & Integrated Development Deirdre Finnerty.

The launch of Slaintecare Healthy Communities Enhancement Scheme: Fit Stick Walking Trails is the successful culmination of close collaboration between Mayo County Council, Mayo Sports Partnership, HSE Community Healthcare, Mayo Local Community Development Committee and  local community partners In Achill, Belmullet and Lacken.

Together local walking infrastructure has been reimagined, and in partnership with Mayo Sports Partnership through their Activator Walking with Poles program individuals have been empowered to participate in these trails, promoting physical activity and fostering inclusivity through sports and recreation initiatives.

As part of the celebration, Activator Walking Groups travelled from across the county, to participate in Mayo first activator walking with poles gathering, led by Frank Fahey from Fitwalk Ireland and Mayo Sports Partnership.

Speaking about the new initiative, Minister Naughton said: “Initiatives such as Fit Stick Trails have immediate, tangible benefits for people of all ages by providing a safe environment for physical activity, particularly for people who may not be able to access other exercise amenities.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with everyone involved in turning vision into reality by collaborating to improve health and wellbeing facilities for the good of the whole community.”

In her second engagement of the day, the Minister visited Corraun Community Centre to learn about the progress of community engagement programmes.

Healthy Communities funding has facilitated the running of online workshops on culture and language, sustainability and health and water safety.

Minister Naughton said: “While Corraun may be geographically isolated, community members are fostering strong connections through their many innovative programmes.

“I’m delighted that Healthy Communities funding is facilitating such useful workshops and I’m keen to meet with all involved to hear about the benefits of participating. Programmes like these are a wonderful example of Healthy Ireland principles in action as they empower communities to take care of their health on an individual and collective basis.”

Joanne Grehan, Director of Services, Mayo County Council welcomed the launch of the trails saying: “The Slaintecare Healthy Communities Enhancement Scheme: Fit Stick Walking Trails are great example of collaboration between Mayo County Council and partners right across the community.

“It exemplifies the benefits of groups working together to bring about positive changes that will have long lasting benefits for communities and the county as a whole.”

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