Students Highlight Why Walking Matters For Their Future

28 Apr, 2022

Today, school children from the Dublin 7 Educate Together met Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing, Frank Feighan T.D to celebrate the importance of walking with a lively morning walk around the beautiful grounds of the University's Grangegorman Campus.

The Morning Walk is part of the exciting programme of events for Walk21 Ireland - the 22nd Walk21 International Conference on Walking and Liveable Communities and the foremost Conference on walking and sustainable communities globally - which is hosted by TU Dublin and will take place across Ireland in September.

The Morning Walk will include a Q&A with the students on the value of walking in their daily lives and the benefits of walking for health, well-being and climate change.  Yann Foster (6), Junior Infants, Dublin 7 Educate Together National School, expressed his excitement to attend the event: "I like walking because it's good for the environment and its good exercise, and I can catch Pokémon."

A group of adults and children walking

The importance of the youth voice in leading the way on climate change will be reflected in the programme in September, with a Youth Forum kickstarting the conference. Walk21 Ireland will bring together leading international visionaries and changemakers from across the world with local environmental experts, community and youth activists, academics and politicians to share the very best of ideas and explore how walking can play a role in building a resilient, healthy, sustainable and safe future for all.

The conference is supported by the Department of Health, Department of Transport and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on behalf of the Government of Ireland and non-profit organisations from across the sport, health and transport sectors.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly T.D., said, “Together with my colleagues in the Departments of Tourism, Culture, Arts, the Gaeltacht, Sport, Media, and Transport, I am delighted to support the Walk 21 International Conference, which will be held in Ireland, based in Technological University Dublin, this September. I particularly want to thank TU Dublin for their leadership in hosting the Conference, which will provide us with a great opportunity to assess global progress in promoting walking and sustainable communities. The promotion of healthy lifestyles has never been more important as we adapt to living with COVID-19, address climate change, and tackle the many issues that can impact on our overall health and wellbeing. The Conference will provide five days of lively and informative debate, networking, and information on how best to move forward with promoting health, physical activity and sustainability.”

Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D., commented: “Walking is the glue that holds our transport network together. Walking enables us to socialize, exercise and travel. When given care and attention, walking and pedestrianization schemes have the power to rejuvenate our towns and villages and breathe life back into local communities. The Walk21 Conference will provide us with incredible insight and knowledge on the best ways we can encourage more walking and to learn about the progress being made across the country through the Active Travel fund and developments to expand our Greenway Network. As we work towards a significant reduction in our climate emissions the Walk 21 Conference will provide a unique platform for discussion at international level and, most importantly, inspire people to get walking.”

Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers T.D.,  said, "The National Sports Policy highlights the importance of lifelong involvement in sport and physical activity. Many of the sports and physical activities that we enjoy when we are young have a shelf life for our involvement in them, however, walking is one of those pursuits that allows for lifelong involvement. The upcoming Walk 21 Conference will allow us to gain valuable insights from researchers and advocates working on developing participation in this key lifelong skill. While gaining the thoughts and opinions of industry experts is vital, I am particularly enthused to hear the voice of young people is being included as a part of the Conference, as a Youth Forum will be kick-starting the conference. Separately to the Walk 21 Conference, I am hosting a Youth Stakeholder forum on Sport and Physical Activity next month. Gaining the thoughts and ideas of young people is key to improving sport and physical activity for our younger people to set them on the path for involvement in lifelong physical activities like walking.

Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing, Frank Feighan T.D. said, “The promotion of walking as a free and simple form of exercise has been one of my priorities as Minister for Public Health and Wellbeing. Walking is a simple and free form of physical activity which we know has great benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. It’s important to remind ourselves that walking is also a means of transport, something which has now taken on increased importance as we tackle the climate challenge. The Conference will provide us with a great platform, both to showcase Ireland’s work on promoting inclusive physical activity, and to build on our relationships with international colleagues, who are facing the same challenges and can advise us on their innovations and solutions.”

Jennifer Boyer, Vice President for Sustainability at TU Dublin, says, "We are looking forward to engaging with Walk21 attendees in our capital city with its medieval centre, walkable streets, generous public parks, modern architecture and rich layers of history, literature and music. The mission of Walk21 fits very well with how TU Dublin views the interdependent opportunities to embrace sustainability in the world around us, as described in our three strategic pillars of People, Planet and Partnership. A tangible example of our vision for sustainability at TU Dublin is our venue for this event today, the University's Grangegorman Campus, which was designed as a walkable, car-free, public transport accessible piece of the city centre. Grangegorman has incorporated sustainability principles at the outset, which encourage public permeability and use of the campus as urban parkland with hundreds of walkers, runners, and cyclists using the campus each day."

Bronwen Thornton, CEO of Walk21, "A strong response to the recent Call for Contributions for Walk21 Ireland resulted in over 260 submissions from 46 countries across the globe. Programme highlights include a World Cafe on safety and security, national initiatives that are investing in walking and how we can embed better walkability in local communities. We are particularly excited about satellite events happening across Ireland and the opportunity to explore walking and local initiatives in different locations."

Walk21 Ireland aims to advance the international agenda, inspiring countries across the globe to invest in walking as a mode of achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It also aims to leave a lasting legacy in Ireland, empowering local authorities, agencies and community groups to support more people walking and make places more walkable.”

This event directly supports and actively implements key interdependent national policies and strategies in Ireland, including the Climate Action Plan, the National Planning Framework, National Physical Activity Plan, National Sports Policy, Our Rural Future, Community Enhancement Programme, Healthy Ireland Framework, and the upcoming Sustainability Mobility Policy.