The more you move, the happier you feel – that’s the sentiment behind Coca Cola’s immensely successful Thank You Fund.

Since its launch four years ago, the subsidy has donated an astonishing €625,000 to close-to 50 not-for-profit sporting projects around Ireland.

In short, that translates into getting some 30,000 people moving and active.  Here, we look at the five worthwhile winners from 2015. Each has been allocated €25,000 to support their local community initiatives.

TENNIS IRELAND

Liam O’Donoghue of Tennis Ireland says the organisation will use the money to enable better access to tennis for people with intellectual disabilities.

“The scheme offers professional coaching to those with intellectual disabilities and already it’s made a huge difference – to children and adults alike.”

“Ideally, we’d like to get 400 people who have never picked up a racket before playing tennis; that’s ambitious, but it’s achievable. We’re not stopping there either. World-wide, tennis a Special Olympics sport – but sadly, that’s not yet the case in Ireland.”

“To see an Irish athlete go to the Special Olympic World Games in four years’ time to play tennis would be life-changing for that individual, so that’s the target now.”

CANOEING IRELAND

The Blueway 10K scheme was recently set up by Canoeing Ireland to promote an alternative fitness avenue nationwide. We chat to Benny Cullen, training and development manager, and Karl Dunne, Chief Executive.

“Some people might not like the usual GAA, soccer, or rugby offerings and want to try something new; others are still big into those more mainstream sports but also want to challenge themselves and improve their overall fitness. That’s where we come in.”

“We’ll be running our first nationwide Blueway 10K event next August – leading up to it with a 12-week training programme from May; the Coca Cola funding is critical in supporting that.

And ultimately, we want to see Ireland become an international paddlesports destination – because when it comes to our natural waterways, we’re second-to-none.”

THE CAMOGIE ASSOCIATION

Caroline Murray, project and initiatives co-ordinator of the Camogie Association, will now promote Teen Cluster Camogie to provide activities and training for teenage girls. She says...

“Sadly, in pretty much every sport, there is a big drop-off rate among girls once they approach their teenage years.”

“We regularly have clubs approach the organisation asking for advice about how they can keep 11- and 12-year-old females playing. It’s an ongoing issue. But now we’ve identified 100 clubs dotted around the country that can benefit from the Coca Cola funding.”

“They in turn then will run their own female-focused mini programmes centring on participation, coaching, and healthy eating. There are longer-term benefits too: it’s all about changing attitudes and assumptions.”

TIPPERARY REGIONAL YOUTH SERVICE

Moira Evans is a project worker from the Tipperary Regional Youth Service. She explains that earlier this year, the organisation established Activ8...

“A lot of younger people assume that if they don’t fancy playing the ordinary team competitive sports such as GAA or soccer, then there’s nothing else for them. But the Activ8 scheme is all about options: hill walking, canoeing, rock wall climbing or skate-boarding.”

“The €25,000 in Coca Cola funding will go towards three separate eight-week long Activ8 youth projects which will take place in Cashel, Thurles and Templemore.  And going forward, some of the participating young people can then become mentors and coaches themselves so the scheme can really develop and grow.”

DONEGAL YOUTH SERVICE

Martin Keeney is a council coordinator for the Donegal Youth Service. And as Martin reveals here, a new Shake Up Sports scheme provides taster sessions for young people interest in alternative sports...

“We want to see as many 12 to 16-year olds as possible benefitting from this scheme, but what’s really great about it is that it’s been developed by young people for young people.”

“Right now we have a total of 36 teens involved as mentors – and through them we can reach about 300 others.  It’s all about staying fit: if you don’t fancy playing a game of hurling, there are plenty of other options – such as ultimate Frisbee.”

“We always say – sport is more than just a competition – and that message is at the heart of Shake Up Sports.”