GAA clubs around Fermanagh and Ireland are lighting up the country to get people walking.
The Ireland Lights Up initiative has had clubs nationwide these past few weeks turning on their floodlights and open their walking tracks to enable their local communities to come together to walk and talk in a safe environment during the long dark evenings of winter.
Going on up until March 2, people looking for a safe environment to can head down to their local GAA club.
One of the clubs participating is Belnaleck GAC with their Health and Wellbeing Officer, Mary Monaghan, who hopes the initiative will make a positive contribution towards not only people’s physical and mental wellbeing but also as an opportunity to make new friends.
She said: “This is about providing somewhere that’s a safe place for people to go out walking. That’s the main thing because we know the roads are a lot busier now – especially on the dark evenings. So it’s harder for people to get out walking – especially if they’ve been working all day.
“The initiative is in tandem with the ‘Every Step Counts’ challenge to encourage people – who walking at a particular club’s ground – to go out walking and to track their steps via an app.
“There is a target of walking 4000km which would be the equivalent of walking around all of Ireland. Collectively, all the members of the club can reach that target. However, not everyone can do that but it gives people something to aim for and get out and walk because we all know what the benefits of walking are.
“Walking is something you can do for free, you don’t have to join a gym and it’s something you can do on your own or with company. The company aspect is a good chance to get out and walk and talk so this is promoting good mental health as well as physical activity.
“If you go on your own, it doesn’t matter. Chances are you’re going to get in with someone there. If you’re walking beside people, you’re going to be talking to them.
“We’re hoping as a club that if this works out well, we would hope to be starting our own walking club. It’s a good chance to go out and be with fellow-minded people.
“As you know, we’re really spoilt for choice for nice walks around the Belnaleck area.”
With regard to the Ireland Lights Up arrangements at Belnaleck, Monaghan encourages people to bring along some added light and that those wanting to take their dogs with them, can do so.
She added: “While there will be lights on at our own club, we will be encouraging people to bring a torch with them just for their own safety walking around the pitch.
“As with people with dogs, it will just be a matter of keeping them on their lead and cleaning up after the dogs. It’s an individual choice if people want to bring their dogs along with them – that’s no problem at all.
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