Put your foot forward to join with walking groups

Put your foot forward to join with walking groups

31 March 2021

THE health benefits of walking are being promoted by Newry, Mourne and Down Council by helping to increase the number of local walking groups with trained leaders.

Five members of the council’s Be Active for Health programme attended the online Walk Leader training course organised by the South Eastern Trust’s Health Development Department.

This is a significant achievement for the members who regularly attended weekly Be Active for Health ‘walk and talk’ groups in Delamont Country Park and Castlewellan Forest Park prior to lockdown and now feel ready to support new members in the future.

The leaders can now volunteer to provide safe and enjoyable walks while promoting the health benefits from walking that they have personally experienced.

Two of the newly trained leaders are Tracey Quail, from Downpatrick, and Janice Bennett, from Killyleagh.

They explained how the time spent on the Be Active for Health programme with the Council’s Health Referral Coordinator Leanne Oakes had empowered them to grow on a personal level but also to help other people and groups within their own communities.

Tracey said: “The Be Active for Health programme has helped me so much, it has been a great lifeline for me, and I now feel strong enough to help other people. I really love and look forward to my walk and talk groups with Leanne as it has given me structure and confidence, and I have made new friends.”

Janice said: “This programme has been life-changing for me in terms of my confidence, the support and encouragement received, and meeting new people. It has given me my get up and go. I now want to give back by becoming a walk leader.”

Council chairperson Laura Devlin remarked: “It is extremely positive to hear how five women who originally availed of the Be Active for Health programme have now gone on to become volunteer walk leaders to help and support others.

“By gaining this new skill the leaders can now promote the benefit of physical activity, and specifically walking, on not only physical health, but also our mental health especially during these extremely difficult times. I wish to congratulate the ladies on their achievement and I am delighted that the Be Active for Health programme has helped them along their journey to great health.”

The Be Active for Health Programme is a district-wide initiative funded by the council and the Southern and South Eastern Health Trust.

For more information on the Be Active for Health programme, please contact Leanne Oakes on 0330 137 4822.