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03 Dec 2021

HealthFest: Free virtual festival for Laois teachers and students with exciting line up of speakers

Line up includes Doireann Garrihy, Greg O'Shea, Professor Niall Moyna and Dermot Whelan

HealthFest: Free virtual festival for Laois teachers and students with exciting line up of speakers

Over 11,000 secondary students and teachers from all over the country are expected to attend this year’s Virtual HealthFest event later this month.

Organised by the National Dairy Council, HealthFest has become a highly anticipated event for secondary school students across the country. This year’s Virtual HealthFest will take place on Wednesday, January 27 from 2-4pm.

HealthFest is a free event tailored to teenagers (TY and 5th years primarily), which has successfully run for 4 years. It is the only event of its kind, featuring experts in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

This year’s event is being staged virtually – as He@lthFest – a FREE festival of fun-filled demonstrations and engaging talks for teachers and their students. The event uses a very interactive platform to deliver credible information from Irish experts; and where students can visit exhibitor stands, win fantastic prizes and even take place in a virtual scavenger hunt!

Places are limited and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Teachers can pre-register their students and find out more at www.healthfest.ie

Healthfest will have a number of exciting speakers on the day including MC and Broadcaster Doireann Garrihy. She says:

“I am delighted to be hosting this exciting event for transition year students, and what a positive start to 2021 which we need more than ever after last year. Teenage years can be tough and young people are under an immense amount of stress; their bodies are changing physically and mentally, and peer pressure is ever present.

"Events like this can be a great way to come together with their peers and enjoy learning about good nutrition, keeping active, wellbeing and mental health from experts and admired influencers”.

The other speakers on the day include Greg O’Shea, Professional Rugby 7’s Player; Professor Niall Moyna, Head of Health and Human Performance at DCU; Dermot Whelan, Broadcaster & Meditation Expert; Dietitian Caoileann Murphy; and Paul Gilligan, Chief Executive of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services.

The virtual event will be divided into three different sections – Healthy Body, Healthy Diet and Healthy Mind and each speaker will speak to their subject area. 

Greg O’Shea will kick off the event with a ten-minute workout and this will be followed by Professor Niall Moyna will discuss the importance of staying active throughout the teenage years and into adulthood. 

Dietitian Caoileann Murphy will talk through a selection of delicious and healthy foods and give advice on following a healthy balanced diet. Finally, Paul Gilligan will discuss key tips for teenagers to mind their mental health; and Dermot Whelan will lead participants through a meditation demonstration.

Rugby Professional and Presenter Greg O’Shea said, “I am delighted to be teaming up with the National Dairy Council this year for He@lthFest. It’s no secret how passionate I am about the importance of looking after your wellbeing, and for me the best way to do this is to keep active and enjoy a well-balanced diet.

"This year He@lthFest will be delivered online so I’m hoping as many students as possible will join in and do a workout with me and learn about some of my favourite tips and tricks to help stay on top of your wellbeing”.

Dietitian Dr Caoileann Murphy will provide key nutrition message to HealthFest attendees. She explains, “During the teenage years, as you transition from childhood to adulthood, it is important to eat well to support this phase of rapid growth and development. Balance is the key to healthy eating so it’s importance to eat a variety of foods from each of the different food groups to make sure your body gets all of the nutrients and energy it needs for good health.”

“A key nutrient is calcium, with our calcium needs at their highest between the ages of 9 and 18 years as our bones are rapidly growing during this time. Eating enough calcium during these years can help our bodies to build the strongest bones it possibly can. As milk, cheese and yogurt are among the best dietary sources of calcium, children and teenagers between 9 and 18 years are recommended to eat 5 portions from this food group each day, compared to 3 portions at the other stages of life.”

Broadcaster and Meditation Expert, Dermot Whelan, will guide He@lthFest attendees through a meditation exercise. He explains: “There will always be moments and periods of heightened stress in our lives, but it’s how we approach them that gives us resilience and confidence. The teenage years can naturally be an anxious time – be it exam stress, confidence issues, falling out with our friends or pressures from social media. I am delighted to share the simple, but effective, meditation technique at He@lthFest that has had such a great benefit on my life. It will hopefully equip He@lthFest participants with a beneficial coping tool, so that they are more ready for all of the exciting challenges coming their way.”

There will also be a virtual exhibition hall on the day with booths from Walk in my Shoes (St Patrick’s Mental Health Services), Bodywhys, SpunOut, Sport Ireland Institute and Careers Portal.

For further information on Healthfest 2021 please visit HERE.

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