As the ‘LittleThings’ mental health campaign has highlighted, it’s the little things that can make a big difference to how we feel on an everyday basis. From healthy eating and exercise to social interaction and creative activities; these are just some of the things that can help us all cope better with life’s ups and downs. Depression affects one in ten people in Ireland at any one time. This is why an event such as the West Cork Feel Good festival, which takes place this year in Bantry on October 9 and 10, is so important in a community. “Simply being able to connect with people and contribute to your community can contribute so much to wellness,” explains Kevin O’ Shanahan, Arts and Mental Health Co-ordinator with West Cork Mental Health Services.
“This is an all-inclusive festival, which everyone in the West Cork community is invited to take part in,” says Kevin. “Anyone in their lives can reach a low point and the purpose of the festival is to highlight all the activities in the locality that can contribute to people’s wellness. We’re delighted to have such great support from the community and local businesses.”
The festival features a wide variety of free events with Cork Sports Partnership, the HSE, Bantry Chamber and a range of community and voluntary organisations all on board. Transition year and primary schools students across West Cork are also using their creative talents to promote the festival, which aims to foster the health and wellbeing of our community in a fun way through sport, food, music, the arts and informative events. CoAction, West Cork Development Partnership, RehabCare the GAA, National Learning Network and West Cork Mental Health Services are among the active partners.
Leading groups such as West Cork Mental Health Forum acknowledge that mental health issues can affect any one of us on life’s journey. Celebrating together and reaching out are simple but deeply meaningful human interactions. This is a core aim of the festival, which is planned to coincide with World Mental Day – October 10, 2015. It will celebrate the strength and support that community brings through unity and sharing with each other. It aims to open new connections for people and groups and to acknowledge people’s talents and gifts. To symbolise this, over the two days, people will be invited to name and add a link to a ribbon chain of connections from across our communities.
Friday, October 9 will have a range of fun and informative occasions at Wolfe Tone square, Bantry. There will be a gentle start to the day with the ‘Morning Glory’ dance group from 7.30am to which all are welcome to attend! Following on from this, a movement and music session with West Cork Inclusive Dance and The Happiness Ensemble will take place at 11am. Throughout the day, there will be a range of free sampling occasions and demonstrations by local craft and health practitioners. The HSE Cumasú or Wellness bus will act as a centre for information and hospitality over both days located at Bantry Square.
Between 12 and 2pm, you will have the opportunity to get active on one of the Westlodge Fitness Stations on the Square. Anyone with an interest in gardening will enjoy the ‘Planting a herbal garden’ demonstration at 12am on the Cumasú Bus. Other events on the bus that afternoon include a ‘Herbal Use’ talk, yoga class and art workshop. There will be an art exhibit and talk with Sarah Ruttle and Rebecca Keyser from 4pm to 5.30pm in the Mizen Suite at the Maritime Hotel. Face painting, pumpkin carving and knitting are just some of enjoyable activities organised throughout the day.
On Friday evening, the ‘Live Life and Sing’ concert will take place at the Maritime Hotel at 8pm. This concert, celebrating the inspiring legacy of the late Donal Walsh is also a fundraising event for charities including SVP Bantry and The Live Life Foundation. This is the only fee-paying event during the festival. Tickets are a mere €10 and are available from the Maritime Hotel. There is a fantastic line up of entertainment and heart lifting music planned for this occassion, including Bantry Community choir, Acapellabella, flautist Caoimhe Conlon and traditional music and song with the Skibbereen youth branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Eireann. Hosts for the evening are the inimitable stars of the comedy and cabaret show ‘Eileen and Marilyn’ by Playacting Theatre.
On Saturday, October 10, sporting heroes from West Cork will be acknowledged in an awards ceremony in Bantry Square, with special guest and footballing legend Conor Counihan. This event will follow a morning of sporting activity for children and families at Coláiste Pobail. Some fun and interesting sports will be offered as a ‘come and try’ occasion including Tag Rugby, BOCCE and Road Bowling skills. Saturday afternoon, will continue in Bantry Square with a ‘Stew Off’ at 2pm; a unique event which will feature the culinary skills of a number of local community groups. Samples of a variety of stews will then be offered to those in attendance. There will also be a boxing club demonstration at this time.
This year’s festival will culminate with ‘The West Cork Big Sing’. Choir leader Caz Jeffreys invites people of all ages to join singers from all over West Cork for an hour of singing and feel good vibes at the Marquee, Bantry square at 4pm. No musical or singing experience is necessary to take part.
It is intended that this will be the first of many Feel Good Festivals in West Cork. The aim is not merely to hold an event but to build connections and grow relationships. The event will be deemed a success not on what happen on the days but on what happen between people and groups. The occasion would not be possible without the free giving of talent that has been received from the communities of West Cork.
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