Daniel’s launches Donegal Age Friendly Strategy on a high note!
Singing star Daniel O’Donnell urged Donegal’s older population not to be afraid to continue to make a valuable contribution to society as they had the experience, knowledge and tenacity to do so.
He was speaking last Friday at the official launch of the Donegal’s Age Friendly Strategy at a function in the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny.
Not only did the Kincasslagh man impart some excellent words of advice, he also serenaded the audience with one of his favourite songs.
Formal proceedings got underway first when Cathaoirleach Cllr John Campbell explained how the strategy reflected a significant body of work exemplifying the cooperation and support of the partners within the Donegal Age Friendly Alliance as well as the encouragement received from older people across the county.
“A broad countywide consultation was conducted and our approach was based on encouraging our older people to raise issues that impacted on their daily lives and asked them to provide suggestions on how service delivery could be improved.”
He added they were confident they would enter into the exciting phase of implementation where they would see real change that would improve the age friendliness of County Donegal.
Donegal County Council’s Chief Executive, Seamus Neely provided a comprehensive overview of the strategy’s eight key themes and stressed their commitment to it.
The themes are: outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation; housing; respect and social inclusion; social participation, civic participation and employment; communication and information and community support and health services.
“We have to find ways of prioritizing things that are important to us at any given point in time and this strategy for us as a council and indeed as a society generally in the county is extremely important,” he said.
The launch also saw contributions from Maire O’Leary, Lesley Newberry and Triona Stafford on the Donegal HSE’s Social Prescribing for Health and Wellbeing; Frances Browne, Project Coordinator, Good Morning Service; Catherine McGuigan, Regional Programme Manager, Age Friendly Ireland and guest speaker, international country singing star, Daniel O’Donnell.
Daniel said he was astounded by the great work being done by so many people and urged everyone to be open to what was being planned for all our futures. He said he hated using the term ‘older people’ – you can be old at 30 and young at 90, he said.
“It’s not really what comes along with you that determines where you are, who you are or how you are in your life, it’s how you feel and a lot of the time how you feel is up to yourself.”
He added that after looking at what was incorporated in the new strategy document, there was no reason with all of the things that were available, that anyone should have a problem when they get old.
He also urged people to be conscious of others who might be struggling on their own or too headstrong to look for help.
“We must be mindful of what other people might need. Rural communities might have done that in the past but now when we are busy and all running and don’t have the time to stop; maybe this is the time we need to think.”
He also urged older people never to think they had nothing to contribute. The very fact that they have lived gives them the right to contribute and in fact, it put an obligation to impart what they knew to the younger people.
“There is no generation that will ever see change like the ones born in the 1920s to the 1950s and the people born after 1980 don’t even know what your life was like. I know they can say you can read it in a book but there’s nothing like somebody telling you themselves,” he said.
He pointed out this was not only providing information, it was a form of interaction that was good for both.
“Age, if you want it you can have it but if you don’t want it you can hold it back as long as you want to. Whatever is good for you is good for you – don’t be afraid to take what you need, enjoy it and be a part of everything,” he said.
He congratulated those involved with the initiative and hoped it went from strength to strength then concluded his contribution with a song. The Homes of Donegal much to the delight of all present.
Donegal County Council’s Director of Community, Culture & Development Planning, Michael O’hEanaigh, who also acted as MC for the launch, thanked all involved putting the strategy together particularly his own colleagues Charles Sweeney, Caroline McCleary and Christina O’Donnell and added Donegal County Council looked forward to working with all involved to implement the new strategy.