Minister Fitzgerald has also announced her plans to establish a new National Play and Recreation Network to bring together local authority play and recreation officers and their expertise for the purposes of advising on further developments and innovations in the provision of play and recreation facilities and to help promote the wider benefits of participation in sporting and cultural activities among local communities. The inaugural meeting of the Network will be held shortly.
Minister Fitzgerald said: “We should never underestimate the importance of recreation in children’s lives. We are very lucky in South Dublin to have a Council which recognises this and supports community family events and organises play events such as the hugely successful Play Day during the Summer in Corkagh Park and the more recent Spooky Walk which provided a positive family event to celebrate Halloween.
“Since my appointment as Minister I have highlighted childhood obesity as a major concern. Research from the ‘Growing-Up in Ireland’ national longitudinal study contains some very worrying data showing that nearly a quarter of Irish children are either overweight or obese. These findings pose a serious challenge which requires a determined and multi-faceted response. Improving rates of play and physical activity among children is a critical part of this response.
“However last month I launched further qualitative research from the ‘Growing-Up in Ireland’ study which highlighted the predominance of indoor activities such as gaming, internet and TV in children's lives, while also indicating the concerns of children in all areas, urban and rural, over the lack of places to play
“The purpose of the National Recreation Week 2011 is to highlight the importance of recreation for young people and to encourage an inter-agency approach to achieving some of the main goals of the National Recreation Policy for Young People which aims to promote recreational opportunities for young people between the ages of 12 and 18.
“I wish to commend South Dublin County Council and in particular their play and recreation officer for their efforts to promote recreational activity and develop facilities in communities right across Rathcoole, Newcastle, Clondalkin, Palmerstown and Lucan. The National Play and Recreation Network which I am now establishing will play an important role in advising on and promoting further developments and innovations in the provision of recreational opportunities for young people,” concluded Fitzgerald.