By Stephen Holland
Galway Sports Partnership’s ‘Walk on Wednesday’ initiative had almost 1,000 participants over the last six weeks with more than 85,000km walked altogether.
The programme was aimed at getting people active in Galway and was run in conjunction with the RTÉ series Operation Transformation, as well as the government’s ‘Keep Well’ campaign.
The plan was for participants to walk together on Wednesdays, with the aim of walking 100km over a six-week period.
Galway Sports Partnership Coordinator Louise Burke said that the initiative was given a grant by Healthy Ireland, with the goal of getting members of the community out walking through January and February.
“All in all, on last count, we had 967 participants,” she said. “The idea was we would walk on a Wednesday as a small group and then go home and watch Operation Transformation.”
However, due to implementation of level-five restrictions this was not possible.
“We called it Walk on Wednesdays because we wanted to get together that day, but that all fell apart with the restrictions” she said.
This did not stop the initiative from continuing. Participants downloaded a fitness app to track their progress and they have a local leader board where they can see how other members are doing.
“There’s been a lot of comparing and contrasting, and that’s created a lot of competitiveness” she said.
The initiative seeks to foster a sense of community and give people the opportunity to connect in a shared activity.
“I had found there was a lot of loneliness and anxiety out there at the moment and the whole programme is centred around the online community” she said.
Leaders have set up Whatsapp groups for the participants to discuss their progress together.
“These groups have been the biggest success. We’ve given people the opportunity to connect at a time when it’s been very hard to do so” she said.
“I think we are on track for 90% of people who have signed up to do their 100km,” she said.
Gary Kilcar, a publican and leader in the Loughrea group, was an active member who helped get over 140 people involved in the initiative through a Facebook campaign.
“Under the current circumstances this is one of the best ways to become part of the local community and make new friends and learn new skills together,” he stated.
Today marks the last Wednesday of the initiative before it officially finishes next Sunday.
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