Pat the Cope Gallagher TD, Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Community Games National Finals in Mosney, Co Meath.

“As Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, I am very happy to be here today.

Since 1968 the Community Games have been providing opportunities for children and young people to grow and develop in a positive and healthy way. The Community Games is in tune with the HSE’s vision of enabling people to live healthy lives. It is therefore appropriate that the HSE has been able to provide sponsorship for the Games.

The Games provide opportunities for young people to participate in physical, social and cultural activities. Through the Games young people can make new friends from all parts of Ireland and can experience new and exciting activities. There is something to appeal to every child in the Games.

The Community Games are active in many communities in all parts of Ireland. The Games can help the HSE to reach out to these communities and spread healthy messages to the thousands of people involved with these games in these communities.

Last year, for example, an effort was made to offer more healthy food options for volunteers and participants. We want to make the healthier choice the easier choice. This was well received by all and the participants learned about health through involvement in their community.

Physical activity is important to keep the mind healthy. Participating in group activities is key for building self-esteem and fostering positive mental health. The HSE Community Games provides these opportunities for young people.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all the young people on getting this far and wish you luck. I would like to thank all the organisers, the volunteers and the parents for contributing to this fantastic event. It is wonderful to see that the Community Games, which began so many years ago, are continuing to have such an important and beneficial role in the lives of young people. I am sure that the Community Games will continue for many years to engage young people in what hopefully becomes a lifetime commitment to physical activity.”