Woodlands for Wellbeing Programme ready for rollout

12-week walking programme launched by Donegal Sports Partnership

Walking event

Drumboe Woods in Stranorlar

A new programme in the woodlands environment aimed at promoting mental health through walking is set to be rolled out by Donegal Sports Partnership (DSP).
Woodlands For Wellbeing is a 12-week walking programme which will focus on helping to support people who are stressed or experiencing difficulties coping with everyday life, people who may be accessing the services of groups such as GROW, Aware, Mental Health Ireland or other supports for mental health difficulties.
People will have an opportunity to join the programme either by self-referral or via a referral organisation.
Under the umbrella of Sports Inclusion Disability Programme (SIDP), DSP have worked closely with local partners in the provision of sport and physical activity for people with a mental health difficulty. Having successfully secured funding through Healthy Ireland and in conjunction with local partners, DSP are preparing to roll out the new initiative over the coming weeks.
All physical activity programmes are beneficial, not only to physical health, but also to mental health. However, a specific target of the SIDP has always been to support people in recovery from mental health illness. The aim of this latest initiative is to make participants aware of these associated health benefits, and provide social opportunities and enjoyment through the implementation of programmes, in partnership with the HSE and other local partners.
Funding has been awarded to deliver the Woodlands For Wellbeing in six different areas of Donegal, with the first programme to be located in the Finn Valley area (Drumboe Woods) and delivered in partnership with Finn Valley Resource Centre.
A local partnership group consisting of members from the HSE, Mental Health Ireland and Donegal Sports Partnership will work in a collaborative approach to provide expert advice on implementation of the programme. This local area partnership will be key to the success of the initiative.
Commenting on the initiative, Sports Inclusion Disability Officer (SIDO) with DSP, Therese Laverty, said: “The initial programme based at Drumboe Woods will be very much the pilot, with learning from the 12-week initiative helping to develop further the remaining five sites.
“The programme will focus on the promotion of walking as an activity and the benefits of same.

Social interaction
“However, Woodlands For Wellbeing will have an educational aspect educating participants on the environment around them, whilst also providing an opportunity to meet new people and encouraging social interaction. Refreshments will be provided weekly by Finn Valley Family Resource Centre, so participants will have the opportunity to have a chat and get to know each other,” she added.
The programme aims to create a legacy of walking in the communities by providing training and education to local walk leaders and also by creating sustainable partnerships to continue the Woodlands for Wellbeing initiative after the initial 12-week period.
“We are fully aware of the difficult time that we are currently experiencing and that there has been an increase in demand for services in relation to mental health supports.
It’s more important now than ever that we encourage activity and work collaboratively to respond to the community needs. We hope that through programmes such as Woodlands for Wellbeing we can help in some small way to play our part in supporting our local communities,” the SIDO said.
For more information on Woodlands For Wellbeing, contact Donegal Sports Partnership on 074 (91) 16078/16079.

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