An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launches HealthFest 2018 National Sports Complex Dublin 26th April 2018

Photo above: Leo Varadkar pictured with students from Newpark School – Nathan Moore, Caia Murdoch, Jess Whelan and Molly Healy

Over 3,000 secondary students and teachers from all over the country attended last year’s HealthFest event in the RDS in Dublin. Organised by the National Dairy Council and safefood, the free event has become one of the most highly anticipated events for transition year students. This year’s event is being held on Thursday 26th April at the National Sports Campus in Dublin. The full day seminar is designed to educate young people about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity in a practical, engaging and fun environment.

A recent study indicates that there is a “startling drop-off” in fitness among secondary school students after the Junior Cert. The findings, gathered as part of the Irish Life Health’s 2017 school fitness challenge, are likely to be of concern to parents and policy-makers. The results of the study of more than 30,000 students throughout Ireland and a survey of physical education (PE) teachers shows a firm trend towards neglecting fitness in exam years and in particular after the Junior Cert.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said

“It’s essential that teenagers are informed about the importance of healthy eating and making time for exercise. I know it’s not always easy to do so, particularly if you are studying hard for exams. But it’s important to remember that getting out and about for some exercise helps to clear your head, it gives you more energy and it’s a great stress buster. Developing good habits in our teens can help us to maintain a healthy attitude to food and physical activity as we progress through life. This year’s Healthfest aims to encourage secondary school students to stay fit and healthy by eating well and looking after their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Healthfest Speaker and fitness expert Karl Henry said “Regular activity can have a very positive impact on how you feel about yourself,” said Karl.  “It’s about improving your energy and motivation.  It’s about the fun and camaraderie of group or team-based activities. It’s about how good you can feel with each achievement along the way. But most of all it’s about the real difference this can make to your health now and in the future”. 

This year’s Healthfest promises to be an amazing day, there will Interactive sessions with the experts including leading fitness expert Karl Henry, Orla Walsh, a leading Irish independent dietitian, Chef Adrian Martin who will demonstrate some of his favourite dishes and special guest speaker, Eoghan McDermott of 2FM who will speak about the importance of looking after their mental health and wellbeing. The MC for the event is of Michael Carey, a radio and TV presenter and Mr Social Media for TG4 and also now has his own keep fit series with RTE in association with Operation transformation.

Diet and nutrition will be a big focus on the day, giving young people the tools and skills to understand the importance of eating well with a healthy balanced diet. During the teenage years this is even more important to support the phase of rapid growth and development.

As well as the importance of managing physical health and wellbeing, Healthfest will also cover the increasingly important area of mental health and young people, RTE’s Eoghan McDermott really resonated on this subject with last year’s audience, he said

“The conversation around mental health has opened up so much the past few years, it really feels like the tide is turning in terms of people feeling comfortable in expressing openly times of distress. I look forward to acknowledging this shift and exploring what happens next..”

Transition Year provides young people with the skills to make a smooth transition between a highly-structured environment up to Junior Cert, towards the more independent self-directed learning required for the final senior Senior Cycle at school. Healthfest is designed to advise students about feeling and looking their best from the inside out, making that first impression and above all, enjoying the ups and downs in life and turning them into positive learning experiences.

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