Press Release

Ministers Reilly and Varadkar welcome launch of Active School Week 2014

Part of an intersectoral approach under Healthy Ireland

The Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, today (Monday 12 May 2014) welcomed the launch of Active School Week 2014.

Minister Reilly said, “Active School Week is an ideal opportunity for schools, children, parents, and the wider community to work together to commit to becoming more physically active. Under Healthy Ireland we want the healthier choice to be the easier choice.  We want to create an environment where everyone can take responsibility and play their part in improving the health and wellbeing of themselves, their families and their communities.

Minister Reilly said, “My Department is developing a National Physical Activity Plan with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport under the Healthy Ireland framework and with input from other key Departments and stakeholders, .  It will promote and encourage greater levels of participation in physical activity by everybody living in Ireland. The aim is to create a shared understanding that more can be done together to address the high rates of physical inactivity in Ireland and the health, economic and social costs related to it.”

Minister Varadkar said: “I am really keen to promote more sport in schools. If we can get children active from an early age, they are more likely to live healthy and happy lives, and society as a whole will benefit. My Department is developing a Sport Policy which is designed to get all Government Departments working together on sport, and we are co-chairing the development of a National Physical Activity Plan with the Department of Health.”

The Ministers encouraged schoolchildren, their parents and communities to recognise the physical and social benefits of being more physically active.

Minister Reilly said, “We are designed to move and to be active and this is critical to our body’s maintenance and wellbeing. Physical activity is an essential ingredient for a healthier country and can deliver so many other benefits for individuals and the wider community. Being physically active is very important in preventing many chronic diseases and also has wider benefits for individual wellbeing”.

The Ministers praised the Active School Week and the Active School Flag initiatives – which are being undertaken by the Department of Education and Skills – for encouraging participation in all types of physical activity. “Active School Week promotes physical activity in schools and communities and fits in with this intersectoral approach”, said Minister Reilly. They expressed the wish that all of the participants would enjoy whatever activities they became involved in and urged even greater levels of participation in the future.

Ends

Note for Editors

Healthy Ireland, the Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013 – 2025, supports a whole-of-government approach to address the determinants and predictors of health and wellbeing, many of which fall outside the health sector. Healthy Ireland contains a commitment to develop a national plan for physical activity. The Department of Health and the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport are co-chairing a working group to develop a National Physical Activity Plan. The group is focusing attention on operational issues to encourage greater participation in, and greater recognition of the importance of, physical activity.

The Department of Education & Skills and the HSE are co-sponsors of the Active School Week. Ireland Active is also demonstrating its support of the initiative by offering complimentary swim passes to participating schools during the week. Healthy Ireland, the government’s framework for improving the health and wellbeing of the country, has agreed to sponsor the Active Flags for the coming year. This initiative reflects the commitment of the Department of Education and Skills, the HSE, and Healthy Ireland in the promotion of students’ well-being and interests.

The Active Schools Week and Active Schools Flag initiative is funded by the Teacher Education Section of the Department of Education and Skills and based in Mayo Education Centre. For more details, see http://www.activeschoolflag.ie