The Sligo Healthy Schools Programme is a programme developed by the Sligo Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) via their Healthy Sligo Programme and is a response to the needs of young people and parents during the pandemic.
The Healthy Ireland Framework (2019-2025) is a roadmap for building a healthier Ireland and to improve the Health & Wellbeing of the Irish population through a wide framework of actions that will be undertaken by Government. It sets out four goals to achieve the Healthy Ireland vision.
- To increase the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life
- To reduce health inequalities
- To protect the public from threats to health and wellbeing
- To create an environment where every individual and sector of society can play their part in achieving a healthy Ireland
The framework outlines clear routes and strategies to achieve these goals, in which all people and all parts of society can participate.
Sligo LCDC is the body locally that oversees the delivery of the Healthy Sligo Programme. This is done with the support of the Community & Economic Development Section of Sligo County Council and its Healthy Ireland Co-Ordinator.
The Healthy Sligo Programme consists of a suite of 19 projects which are to be delivered by local partners including organisations in the community and voluntary sector by December 2021. Funding is provided by the Healthy Ireland Fund which is supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Sligo LCDC & Sligo County Council is delighted to work in partnership with the national Healthy Ireland Programme to promote, animate and support the programme through local actions. Projects being rolled out under Healthy Sligo are under the following themes Mental Health, Physical Health and Nutrition. Healthy Sligo focuses on a holistic approach to good mental health, physical activity and wellbeing which is vital during this current pandemic. It recognises the need to work collaboratively across public, private, community and voluntary organisations to deliver the Healthy Sligo Plan.
Sligo Healthy Schools Programme
This is a new initiative which seeks to improve the mental health of young people and parents which has been affected by the prolonged isolation brought about by the COVID Pandemic.
It acknowledges the challenges that exist for both parents and children and the need to develop resilience to maintain a healthy mind and body, both of which are inextricably linked. Taking into account Public Health advice the Programme is interactive in the way it works with young people encouraging them to participate in themes such as nutrition, healthy eating and food preparation. It features wellbeing and minding your head in tandem with physical activity for young people of all abilities.
Focus on Nutrition
Over the last 8 weeks, Siobhan O’Farrell and Dee Hamill, Nutritional Therapists have been visiting 7 secondary schools in County Sligo to talk to 3rd year, TY’s & 5th-year students about nutrition and lifestyle and its positive effects on health.
Siobhan said, ‘We spoke to the students about how food can affect how we feel not just physically but mentally. It was an amazing experience for me speaking to these students or future adults and seeing their interest in all things nutrition and health. Teenagers these days are really aware of good nutrition and eating well, they understand that if they eat good food, it will pay off in good health. ‘In giving a brief run-down of the nutritional side of the programme, Siobhan commented that the programme also looks at ways to manage stress including sharing tools required to assist in everyday life like deep breathing techniques, the benefits of having a quality sleep and how our diet can affect mood and sleep. Keeping a fun element to the programme was important and incorporated a healthy breakfast challenge for the students to try along with recipes for quick, packed lunches and dinners. The basic send home message was ‘balance’, it is so important to have a good balance, most of your everyday diet should be nourishing and healthy, and trying to be mindful of the quality of food you buy and eat is good. Nobody is perfect but you also must have fun, have a healthy relationship with food, life is for living and enjoyment is part of that, so it is lovely to enjoy the odd nice treat !’
Focus on Strength and Conditioning
Spórt Agus Spraoi are delivering the strength and conditioning element of the program to secondary schools across Sligo. This teaches students a broad range of techniques and exercises from at home workouts to educating students on the more unique forms of strength and conditioning, for example how flipping a tyre can be included in a strength and conditioning program.
The aim of Spórt Agus Spraoi is to educate young people on the benefits of strength and conditioning training, resistance training and encourage positive behaviour change. To date feedback from both students and teachers has been very encouraging and positive. With teachers seeing much higher rates of participation from students during the strength and conditioning classes, with some teachers being surprised at the high levels of participation from all students. The students have also been very positive with their feedback with reports of them saying they were in a better mood after the class, more focused in classes, less stressed and overall feeling happier. According to Sport agus Spraoi, “Working with these young adults has really enriched our passion in the overall goal of our organisation which is getting the youth of Ireland more physically active and teaching them the importance of strength and conditioning training”.
Support to Parents
In tandem with supporting young people, the Healthy Sligo Programme recognises the needs of parents and a connected programme has been developed which will also be run through the participating schools to support parents, recognising the impact which ongoing COVID restrictions has had. Councillor Dara Mulvey, Chair of Sligo LCDC welcomed the programme as a huge addition to much needed supports for families during COVID and commented that “there is no age barrier when it comes to keeping up mental resilience and strength to maintain a healthy mind”.