By Dan Walsh
You can’t beat activity and fun in the fresh air! Min Ryan Park, Wexford, was a wonderful place to be this morning with children and families enjoying themselves in the hot summer sun in the play area, others taking in the walking trails, and the launch of a wellbeing map by children for children Wexford Great Places and Spaces by the Minister for Older People and Mental Health Mary Butler TD adding to the magic of the great outdoors.
Alice Doyle, Chairperson of Wexford Mental Health Association, acted as master of ceremonies at the socially distance outdoor ceremony, and said Wexford Great Places and Spaces is a wonderful publication and the brainchild of Paula Lowney. “It is the voice of children and the work of children for children by children, and Wexford Mental Health is proud of the project,” she added.
Minister Butler congratulated everyone associated with “a hugely original approach and it was driven on so well by Wexford Mental Health Association and their partners in Mental Health Ireland and I want to compliment the community and the volunteers because this could never happen without the volunteers and the endless hours that people put in.”
Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy, Cathaoirleach Wexford County Council said she was delighted to support the project and she was armed with compliments! “The engagement in the project was outstanding. 22 schools and outreach programmes participated in the project resulting in a total of 889 creative responses from primary school aged from across Co. Wexford,” stated Cllr Murphy.
Mayor of Wexford, Cllr Garry Laffan praised “a child friendly, wonderful and colourful publication through the eyes of our children” and he complimented the Wexford Mental Health Association on a splendid product.
Paula Lowney spoke about the idea for the publication and how it developed and stated that the Project gave an opportunity from primary school aged children from all over Co. Wexford to share their Great Places and Spaces that has had a positive impact on their wellbeing.
There were further praise and acknowledgement of success from Martin Rogan, CEO Mental Health Ireland and Dr Dervla Howley, Head of Health and Wellbeing in the South-East.
The attendance included Minister James Browne, Deputies Verona Murphy and Johnny Mythen, Senator Malcolm Byrne, Cllrs George Lawlor, Leonard Kelly, Tom Forde and Maura Bell, Tom Enright, CEO Wexford County Council and volunteers and friends of Wexford Mental Health Association.
Thanks was expressed to the Wexford Mental Health Project team of Paula Lowney, Niall Ó Muirí, Theresa Goff, Lorraine Cleere, Conor Ryan and the teachers and schools, and, especially the children, who participated in the Project and helped bring it to fruition.
The launch concluded with a poetry reading by Chloe Goff, composed by the children, and carried the message; “We hope that you find by using our map that Wexford has great places that can capture your heart.”
The booklet is a guide and a map for families and carers to support and encourage outdoor activities and play in the wonderful natural environments of Co. Wexford. Copies of the Wexford Great Places and Spaces Project – Wellbeing Map for children by children will be available to the public, free of charge, through the libraries and schools in the coming weeks and months.