Co Fermanagh pupils tackle mental health head on with Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good schools programme
Hundreds of secondary school pupils across County Fermanagh are benefitting from a dedicated Mental Health Athlete Mentorship programme delivered by Lidl Northern Ireland as part of the retailer’s established ‘Sport for Good’ initiative which aims to tackle mental health head on.
With 45 per cent of young people in Northern Ireland stating that their mental health has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic*, the Lidl Northern Ireland Sport for Good initiative is focused on providing students with the correct tools to increase confidence and resilience, by seeking the long-term physical and mental health benefits of sport participation.
From local sporting heroes to Irish Olympians, the workshops, delivered in partnership with Youth Sport Trust, the UK’s leading sports charity, are being led by an inspirational line up of athletes at the top of their game, who have been trained to lead sessions to help students manage their mental health through sport, as they progress into adulthood.
Students at Mount Lourdes Grammar School in Enniskillen were among the first to receive a series of dedicated mental health mentorship workshops earlier this week, delivered by Olympic steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty.
Hailing from Newtownards in County Down, Kerry, who studied Sports Science and Physical Education at Ulster University, began running competitively in 2009. She has since gone on to compete in the European Championships, World Championships, and Olympic Games, and is now passing on her wealth of knowledge to pupils across the country as part of Lidl Northern Ireland’s flagship Community Works initiative, Sport for Good.
Commenting on the workshops, Kerry O’Flaherty said;
“It’s such an amazing opportunity to be involved in the Lidl Northern Ireland Sport for Good programme, which truly empowers young people to manage their mental health by harnessing the power of sport.
“Growing up with such a passion for running taught me a range of key skills that translate from sport to so many aspects of everyday life – including mental resilience, determination, and focus, and it’s an honour to share what I’ve learned with the students at Mount Lourdes Grammar School.
“The students got really involved in the workshop, were genuinely interested in how they can improve their wellbeing through sport, and I’m proud to have played a small part in helping to inspire those who may be struggling with their mental health.”
Established in 2019, Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good initiative has supported more than 80 schools and sports clubs, providing over £220,000 in funding to encourage more young people into sport.
Earlier this year, the retailer announced 25 winning schools - hailing from every county across the region – who were selected for the Mental Health Athlete Mentorship programme thanks to nominations by local shoppers, following a call out for competition entries in October last year. Each winning school also received £1,000 worth of brand-new sports equipment.
Mount Lourdes Grammar School is one of two schools in County Fermanagh participating in the programme, alongside Enniskillen Royal Grammar School.
The sessions across Northern Ireland are being led by a stellar line up of leading local athletes which includes Olympic steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty as well as four-time Paralympic athletics champion Michael McKillop, Olympian hockey heroes Shirley McCay and Eugene Magee, Northern Ireland netball international and Armagh Ladies' Gaelic footballer Caroline O’Hanlon, and female rugby union champion and Olympian Ashleigh Baxter.
Kiera Owens, Head of Physical Education of Mount Lourdes Grammar School in Enniskillen, said;
“The pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the mental health of young people across Northern Ireland, so now more than ever we actively promote mental health education as part of our curriculum.
“The Sport for Good workshops therefore couldn’t have come at a better time and we have found that the sessions have really helped our students to boost their social skills and self-esteem through sports participation.
“On behalf of the entire school, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who voted for Mount Lourdes Grammar School to participate in the Sport for Good workshops, aswell as Lidl Northern Ireland and Youth Sport Trust for supporting our community and our young people, who have so thoroughly enjoyed meeting Kerry O’Flaherty and learning how they can embrace the physical and mental benefits of sport.”
For more information, please visit lidl-ni.co.uk/lidl-community-works
Pavilions Office Park,
Holywood, County Down