Ardagh youngsters
embrace healthier lifestyle

Ardagh/Moydow/Glen (AMG) Community Games celebrated the end of their Healthy Events 2013 campaign on May 17 at the Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre.

Ardagh/Moydow/Glen (AMG) Community Games celebrated the end of their Healthy Events 2013 campaign on May 17 at the Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre.

The purpose of this brand new initiative from the National HSE Community Games is to encourage an area to promote health in their Community Games events by improving awareness of 5 very important health topics relevant to all ages in their community. These topics are: Sun Safety, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Substance Misuse (alcohol/tobacco/drugs) and Mental Health.

As their weekly youth club had finished for the summer, the children took a break from table tennis, badminton, chess and draughts, and spent one last night learning about the 5 Healthy Events topics. Bright posters created by the children with original health promotion slogans decorated the room. Their messages were clear: ‘Fun & games are guaranteed, 2nd hand smoke we do not need!’, ‘You don’t need to be wealthy to eat healthy’ and ‘Don’t lose your mind, Mind your mental health’.

The table quiz, based on fact sheets available to download on the National HSE Community Games website, gave all the children (and even their parents!) a chance to impress with all they had learned. Everyone knew that children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity 7 days a week, and that exercise improves mood and helps you to better cope with life’s stresses. It was obvious that the children had taken in the information presented throughout the year.

Certificates were awarded to the 5 Transition Year students from Mercy Secondary School, Aphra Hartmann, Dayna Victory, Shane Finnan, Cormac Dennigan and David Whitney, recognising their services as Young Leaders at the AMG Community Games Youth Club. Brendan Farrell from Ardagh Eco Gardens gave a guided nature walk in the Heritage Park telling the children how dandelions got their name. Everyone guessed the ages of the trees, many of which were planted by Brendan in 1989.

Putting healthy eating into practice, the fizzy drinks, crisps and sweets have been banished from all the AMG Community Games activities this year including the annual sports day and the Leinster Table Tennis Finals held in Ardagh. All the children and parents enjoyed trays of fresh fruit and vegetables. There was a rainbow of colour and shapes on each plate so the children didn’t even miss the junk food.

As the campaign was coordinated with Fiona Gallagher at the HSE Health Promotion Unit in Longford, there was a display of health promotion literature from the HSE, Irish Cancer Society and Safefood available at every activity this year. Brochures based on a wide variety of subjects meant there was plenty of information for everyone to take home. The subjects included: smoking dangers and help with cessation, growing up smoke free, how to reduce your risk of cancer, facts about drugs and alcohol, being sun smart, exercising - getting active and getting kids on the go, little steps to eating well, fueling your body, healthy eating using the food pyramid, resilience and positive mental health.

The organising committee of Brigette Lynch Scott and Leslie Finnan are preparing to submit their entry for the Healthy Events Awards 2013 and hope the judges will reward AMG Community Games for the improvements and health promotion they have carried out this year.