Ross Delaney, Cavan, competing in the Under-16 Butterfly competition at the HSE National Community Games Finals at Athlone Institute of Technology on Saturday, August 13, 2011.
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Athlone was a centre of excitement and expectations during the first weekend of the HSE Community Games August National Finals, 2011 which took place from Friday 12th to Sunday 15th August, 2011 in Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT).
Nearly 2,500 children participated in a number of cultural and sporting activities including; Gymnastics, Swimming, Gaelic Football, Soccer, Tennis, Pitch & Putt, Volleyball, Olympic Handball, Hockey, Skittles, Cycling, Judo, and Variety (a type of drama, dance and music competition). They were supported by over 600 volunteers and organisers, as well as family members and friends, who came from all corners of the country to offer their support and encouragement to all of the children participating. Over 200,000 young people from all over Ireland take part in the HSE Community Games qualifiers and finals every year, making it an essential part of the Irish summer.
Following on from a very successful National Final in May, everyone was looking forward to a weekend of competition and enjoyment for the thousands of children attending. The weekend got off to a great start on Friday evening with a colourful and energetic opening event with Emma O’Driscoll, from RTE’s ‘The Den’, and our own HSE Community Games Mascot Oltan the Owl, welcoming all the children as they paraded in to the National Finals event. The HSE Community Games National Finals will continue next weekend in Athlone Institute of Technology from the 19th – 21st August 2011 where the children will participate in Athletics, Rugby, Futsal, Camogie, Hurling, Rounders and Basketball.
“We’re certainly living in changing times though some things remain constant and true. One of them I believe is the value and vision of our organisation, the purpose and strength it can bring to communities and the opportunity we can provide to young people to explore new pursuits in a healthy and fun environment.” said Gerry Davenport, President, HSE Community Games.
Dr Nazih Eldin, Head of Health Promotion, Dublin North East, HSE, said “There is compelling evidence across the entire world that physical activity can counteract many of the causes of morbidity and mortality and in particular can help young people to avoid unhealthy lifestyles. Research has shown that regular exercise across sectors can reduce heart disease, many forms of cancer, diabetes etc. More importantly, perhaps in the context of younger people, it can reduce stress levels, heightened sense of well being, and self esteem, improve mental health and enhance body image. I am delighted that so many young people continue to take part and enjoy the HSE Community Games.”
Every year, the HSE Community Games partnership aims to promote healthy living across all aspects of everyday life including being active, eating well, awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption and the dangers of tobacco. The ongoing “Little Steps” campaign run by the HSE and safefood, promotes healthy lifestyle choices by encouraging families to eat more fruit and vegetables, cook healthy meals at home and for children to be moderately active for at least 60 minutes daily and adults to be moderately active for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Further information about being active and eating well is available on www.littlesteps.eu.
HSE Health Promotion staff were on hand at the HSE Community Games to provide helpful tips for eating well and being active as well as hosting a series of healthy smoothie tastings to show how easy it is to make healthy lifestyle choices for all the family.
Speaking over the weekend, Fiachra O’Mathuna, CEO, HSE Community Games said, “These two weekends are the accumulation of a lot of hard work from children, parents and volunteers who have been preparing for the last year to reach this point. As delighted as we are with the success of our National Finals, it is the lifelong participation and love of a healthy lifestyle we work to instil in those involved with the HSE Community Games that is most important to us and of greatest value to them.”
Results from the National Finals can be accessed at: www.communitygames.ie . The website will be updated regularly throughout the finals, with the results from the weekend’s activities.