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John Conroy leading the Fitness for Fun outdoor exercise class organised by Clare Sports Partnership at John O'Sullivan Park, Lees Road, Ennis. Photography by Eugene McCafferty

Minister sees fruits of Clare projects opening up activity to all

Clare Local Sports Partnership showcases initiatives to Minster Frank Feighan at Lees Road

PROJECTS aimed at ensuring all members of society have an opportunity to take part in physical activity and sport were showcased during a visit of Minister of State Frank Feighan to Ennis last week.
The Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy witnessed two of the projects in action which have been led by Clare Sports Partnership while he was at Active Ennis John O’Sullivan Park, Lees Road.
John Conroy from Fitness for Fun, led an outdoor exercise class which has become a popular weekly event among older adults. Also, James O’Donohue, disability representative to Clare Sports Partnership, and Liam Casey, a wheelchair user from Ennis also showcased handcycles for those who use wheelchairs.
The TD was met by board members and staff of Clare Local Sports Partnership including chairperson to the board, Tim Forde, Councillor Ann Norton, Mayor of Ennis and Catherine Ryan, Finance and Governance support manager of the LSP.
“It is always a great pleasure to welcome government ministers to Active Ennis John O’Sullivan Park, Lees Road. Clare’s jewel in crown of sports and recreation”, said Mr Forde.
“It is particularly special when the opportunity allows CLSP to showcase some of the fantastic programmes we are providing and supporting around the county.”
He continued, “I would like to thank Minister Frank Feighan, for his visit to us and commend the CLSP team, led by John Sweeney, co-ordinator, for their outstanding work and commitment to physical activity and participation.”
Ms Ryan added, “It has been a trying time for everyone these past 16 months and for our older adults and people with a disability it has been especially tough.
“Now that things are finally beginning to open up we are delighted to have Minister Feighan observe two of our programmes which support these groups.”
Clare Local Sports Partnership have striven to be a leader in supporting older adults to become physically active through organised sessions.
“Research carried out by the sports partnership has shown that its older adults support programme has made a marked positive impact on the lives of the people who have been taking part in them.
“This has manifested itself in better flexibility, greater strength and more connection with their community.
“The success of our programme has been built on positive relationships and partnerships with organisations such as family resource centres and physical activity providers such as Fitness for Fun and TRX fitness,” said Trish Blake of Clare Sports Partnership.
Pre-Covid, with the support of these organisations the sports partnership have been engaging over 500 people per week. During Covid there was a significant decline to around 200 as classes had to be supported through online means and other ways.
“We have been very grateful for the support given through Sport Ireland and the #keepwell fund to be able to support the ongoing provision for older adults and the return to provision for older adults,” she said.
Speaking about the ministerial visit, she said the Fitness for Fun weekly outdoor class has been “replicated in other areas around the county, where the older adults have a safe space outdoors in order to experience health enhancing physical activities.
“We are delighted to also get the support from Clare County Council in use of this magnificent facility for our classes.”
Funding for the handcycles was made possible through the Dormant Account Fund, which according to Trish has been a “great support to local sports partnerships across the country”.
“In Clare we have been fortunate enough over the years to secure funding for various projects for those who experience disadvantage in the sporting sense.
“One of these projects has enabled us to purchase handcycles for those who use wheelchairs. Again with the support of the County Council, wheelchair users can book to use the wheelchairs, through emailing james@claresport.ie, for use in John O’Sullivan Park, Leeds Road.
The track here makes an ideal venue for such an activity as it is safe and the surface is ideal for practice.”

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