Total funding over four years reaches 500,000 Euros. Athlete Derval O'Rourke joins Minister Michael Ring to announce the winners.

Five organisations today shared in €125,000 of funding from the Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund for innovative projects which will promote active lifestyles in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Fund awards grants to organisations for new initiatives aimed at encouraging people to incorporate physical activity into their day to day lives. In existence since 2011, the Fund today celebrated reaching the milestone of half a million euro in total funding with this latest round of grants.

The latest awardees are Canoeing Ireland, Killarney Rugby Football Club, Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club, Spraoi agus Spórt and Swim Ireland, which each received €25,000 today.

Michael Ring TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, congratulated the organisations on their achievement and said he was looking forward to seeing their projects in action.

Speaking today Minister Ring said: "The Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund continues to have a positive impact across Ireland and Northern Ireland, with €500,000 donated in grants since the Fund began in 2011. The Government also continues to be committed to increased participation in sport at all levels, and I was delighted to announce a third Sports Capital Programme in Budget 2015. Participation in sport has risen from 44.8% in 2011 to 47.2% last year. Coca‑Cola, through this level of investment, has shown a commitment to improve the level of participation in physical activity in our local communities. The Fund invests in active lifestyles and programmes and has been a great success in reaching out to people who may not engage in regular physical activity. It continues to identify initiatives that will spark people’s interest and get them moving. Through Government investment and Funds like this, participation in sport and physical activity can grow and lead to an overall improved quality of life for participants."

Derval O’Rourke, Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund Ambassador and former Olympic athlete, tweeted her congratulations to the five winning groups. “Five organisations each received €25,000 today in major funding for brilliant projects that are sure to get you moving #greatnews #letsmovetogether.”

Ailish Forde, Public Affairs and Communications Director at Coca‑Cola HBC Ireland, said: “Thousands of people stand to benefit for programmes that will variously: train a range of new kayak instructors to introduce young people to the sport; equip Kerry with its very first “Trim Trail”, a one kilometre path for use in exercise; get the whole family cycling; train people who do no exercise currently to run 5k over a ten week period; and encourage the nation to swim in their local pool through the return of a greatly expanded Swim for a Mile programme which also facilitates open water swimming for the first time. I congratulate each of the organisations responsible for these worthy and exciting projects and, indeed, commend all the applicants to the Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund this year for their many brilliant ideas and for their considerable efforts aimed at increasing movement in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

More information about the Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund is available at www.coca-cola.ie/thankyou.

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For more information, please contact:

Suzanne Sullivan, Q4 PR, 01-4751444 and 086-3797291

Or

Cillian Murphy, Q4 PR, 01-4751444 and 086-4107750

Notes to the Editor:

Descriptions of the five successful projects from the Coca‑Cola Thank You Fund 2014:

Organisation: Canoeing Ireland

Description: Canoeing Ireland will work with five youth groups in disadvantaged areas in Leinster to deliver local Kayak Instructor Training Initiative programmes. The organisation aims to change forty young people’s lives over nine months and to transform communities by training local activity leaders with professional qualifications. They will work with youth services on the project, eight of which have already expressed an interest in taking part. The project will culminate in the Irish Sea Kayak Crossing Challenge, whereby the participants will cross the Irish Sea by kayak between Ireland and Britain supported by Canoeing Ireland.

Organisation: Killarney Rugby Football Club

Description: Killarney Rugby Football Club will create a ‘Trim Trail’, a walk/run path 1km in length with exercise stations at 10 or 12 intervals along the way. There will be equipment at these stations where users can do press-ups, sit-ups, squats, leg raises, chin ups and dips. Some users will just use it for walking or jogging, others will incorporate vigorous exercise programs, mothers with buggies may use it while their older children play matches. Killarney Rugby Football Club coaches will also be able to incorporate the Trim Trail into their training programmes. The Trim Trail will be a valuable, free addition to the amenities available in Killarney (there is no other such facility in Kerry) and will promote healthy, active lifestyles in a fun and easy to use manner.

Organisation: Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club

Description: Through the use of a secure training track, Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club will provide specific training for dads, mums, and children - ensuring the family unit is involved. It will have trained and vetted adults on hand to look after the children who are not old enough to get on their bikes, who are on stabilisers, who are gaining confidence, and are ready for the racing circuit - ensuring a controlled environment. The key objective is to get the whole family fit. The organisation aims to have trained coaches on hand to take adults safely out on road with a view to improving their racing abilities, with specialised programmes running simultaneously for children.

Organisation: Spraoi agus Spórt

Description: The “Inishowen “100”, Ready, Steady Run!” project will provide coaching from experienced runners in 3 flagship towns – Buncrana, Carndonagh and Moville. It will encourage people who currently do little or no exercise to get active and get from the couch to running 5k over a ten week period. It will also offer nutritional advice sessions so that healthy eating in conjunction with running is explained in detail. The project will cater for 200 people in Buncrana and 150 people in both Carndonaghand Moville. The organisation will provide 3 training sessions per week using experienced coaches. Each session will be approximately 1 hour and cover about 5 kilometres. Therefore each week the participant will be running approximately 10 miles, so over ten weeks they will clock up 100 miles. At the end of the 10 weeks it will organise a Family 5k Fun Run/Walk to celebrate the success of the project.

Organisation: Swim Ireland

Description: The Swim for a Mile initiative aims to encourage people of all abilities to build swimming into their daily lives. Swim Ireland will provide coaching sessions 2-3 times a week at 5 flagship pools in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Bangor and Dublin. The training programme culminates in 150 events run at pools where swimmers come and swim the mile. Swim Ireland will also oversee timing, merchandising, and registration and event management of the five major swims. Project partner Ireland Active will provide access to 200+ pools, as well as assisting with event management of the smaller events in local pools. Meanwhile, the Simon Community will add volunteers, promotional reach and participants. As a follow on from the Swim for a Mile in the pool, “Swim for a Sea Mile” will also take place in the summer for those that have already completed Swim for a Mile in the pool. Participants will be encouraged to continue swimming and to try out sea swimming. A full training programme will also be in place for the gap between the pool swim and the open water swim.