An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has today (24 April) launched a new campaign - In This Together - which aims to help everyone in Ireland to Stay Connected, Stay Active, and look after their Mental Wellbeing throughout the Covid-19 Emergency.
The campaign - which starts today - encourages everyone to pick a new activity which could help them to feel a little healthier or a little better as we deal with Covid-19.
The Taoiseach was joined at the launch by Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone.
It signposts useful advice to help people of every age group to cope with the ongoing restrictions, whether they are looking after children, dealing with self-isolation, preparing for the Leaving Cert, or coping with cabin fever.
In This Together will offer regular videos, ideas and activities for people of all ages throughout the Emergency, over social media, through our partners in the media and promoted by the Community Call Forums which have been set up across Ireland.
All this information is being made available on gov.ie/Together, on your local authority website, on social media, television, radio and newspapers throughout the Emergency and you can find details of local initiatives on your local authority website.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach said:
The impact of Covid-19 has been dramatic. As a country we have come together to try to protect ourselves and save others. We have all played our part. We have pulled together in the most remarkable way. And it is starting to work.
I understand that people are anxious and they are worried. Above all, we all need to look after ourselves, whether you’re an older person cocooning at home, working at home or laid off during the Emergency.
We all need to stay physically active, stay connected with friends and family, and look after our mental health. So we are launching In This Together to encourage everyone to look after themselves. We’re in this together and we will come out of it together too. So let’s set ourselves the target to do something each day to make us feel a little healthier and a little happier.
Minister Harris said:
Our wellbeing goes beyond our physical health. Now more than ever, we need to be there for each other. Whether that be through group exercise classes, or through educational supports, video calling your family, we must do everything we can to protect our health - mental and physical. Supports are available and our health service is there for you.
The campaign also includes a new suite of resources for children and parents. Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone said:
At this challenging time it can be difficult for parents to know where to easily access trusted information and support. Parents Centre contains information for parents and provides links to a wide range of many trusted and high quality online resources including learning, parenting and information on supports for parents. Let’s Play Ireland is designed to remind us all, young and old, of the fundamental importance of play.
Playing is central to children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health and wellbeing. Children learn through play while developing resilience, flexibility and understanding of their world. Play in families enriches childhood and, right now, in the midst of these uncertain and troubling times, play is more important than ever.
The initiative brings together National Government, Government Agencies, Local Government, community and voluntary sectors, and the Community Call Forums around the country.
Wellbeing initiatives right across Government are being collated so that information can be easily found, either on Gov.ie or the relevant Local Authority websites.
In This Together draws together a huge range of activities that you can pursue in your home or your locality, by yourself or with family members or with friends online. There are ideas and activities for people of all ages.
Some highlights include:
· A Let’s Play Ireland initiative to encourage playtime for children, with online resources for storytelling, playful learning, and Play for Play’s Sake coming online;
· Every home can take part in a virtual Bloom At Home where well-known gardeners, Show Garden designers and Bord Bia Bloom staff will share their advice and tips throughout May, encouraging people to prepare their own plants and gardens, balconies and window boxes for a national celebration. This will culminate in a final virtual Bloom Day showcasing the nation’s efforts.
· Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which attracted 750,000 visitors in 2019, will be reimagined as a digital and virtual Fleadh for 2020. TG4 is partnering with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann to deliver this special 2020 event;
· Live concerts over the internet and social media through #IrelandPerforms;
· Motivational exercise videos for people of all ages from Irish athletes;
· Music-making initiatives for young people;
· Online classes in dance, meditation, and movement;
· Virtual classes in traditional skills like weaving, printing, basket making, jewellery, ceramics;
· Educational tutorials for young people including learning an Irish-language song, or making your own podcast;
· Thousands of e-books and e-audiobooks that you can access at home;
· Activities for young people from Gaisce, Foroige and Comhairle na nÓg;
· Walking challenges to encourage people to exercise in their locality.
In This Together also draws together the huge range of advice and support that’s available online for people of all ages, including:
· Advice on parenting, entertaining children at home and creating a daily routine;
· Cooking and advice on healthy diets;
· Advice on mindfulness and looking after your mental wellbeing;
· How to support your vulnerable neighbours and family members;
· Online advice (being launched next week) for Leaving Certificate students with up to date information on this year’s exams, and details of practical and psychological supports currently available, as part of a broad package of supports for Leaving Certificate students.
The full press release is available here.