Outscape Conference: Expert Panel – Health

30th January 2023

The Outscape Conference 2023 will be our first in-person conference since the pandemic and there will be lots of opportunities to be inspired, share information, and network with others. The Greenhill YMCA National Outdoor Centre in Newcastle (County Down) is located on the stunning slopes of Slieve Donard mountain, and the conference programme will also include optional walk-shops on the nearby trails. This venue is 45 minutes from the border and Outscape welcomes participants from across the island of Ireland in the outdoor recreation and associated sectors.

We are hosting three expert panels on the day along with optional walk-shops, and a guest speaker – Zak Hanna.

What is next for health and outdoor recreation? We have a group of expert panelists joining us at Greenhill YMCA National Outdoor Centre on 23rd February 2023 who might have the answer!

Mike McClure
SportNI and European Network of Outdoor Sports (ENOS), Outdoor Recreation Development Officer and Chair
Mike is the Active Outdoors Development Officer for Sport Northern Ireland and is based at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre. His role involves liaising with local and central government agencies as well as national federations and clubs to strategically develop outdoor sport and recreation. He led a consortium that developed the NI Outdoor Recreation Action Plan which provides the framework of 33 actions that provides the framework for developing Northern Ireland as a great place to be active outdoors.
Mike is the chairman of the European Network of Outdoor Sports and has been involved in a range of European Projects including the Benefits of Outdoor Sports for Society which has provided a framework using Social Return on Investment principles for measuring impacts and outcomes of being active in nature.
Mike is still a very active outdoor enthusiast – with his main passion being sea kayaking. He is a British Canoe Union level 5 Coach and has paddled extensively throughout the UK and Ireland from the Shetlands to the Channel Islands. He has also led trips in Canada, America and Europe.
Mike’s background is as an Environmental Scientist and he worked in the field of outdoor and environmental education for over 20 years. He is passionate about engaging people with nature and communicating the importance of our fantastic ecosystems and wildlife.

Dr. Hannah Dearie
Public Health Agency, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer
Hannah is a registered dietitian and has worked for the Public Health Agency (PHA) in the Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement team for the past 12 years. Before that she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast following her PhD which investigated the correlation between nutritional intake and chronic disease. Within the PHA Hannah works on the nutrition and obesity agenda to help tackle health inequalities in Northern Ireland. One of the projects she leads on is the Active School Travel programme in Northern Ireland.
Hannah is passionate about improving health outcomes for the whole population and enjoys seeing how the Active Schools Travel programme helps increase physical activity levels in children, in line with the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines. In the 2021/22 school intake, the number of children completing the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day increased from 28% to 40%.  As many as one in four children aged between 2 and 15 years old are overweight or obese in Northern Ireland and programmes like this are helping to reverse these trends. The programme is fun, safe and interactive and has further reaching benefits to support children’s mental health. Hannah loves being active and getting out in the great outdoors, whether its on the school run, walking meetings at work or in her spare time.

Martin Carey
Mourne Heritage Trust, Chief Executive Officer
A  native of County Down, who has been Chief Executive of Mourne Heritage Trust since 2006. The Trust is a charity providing outdoor recreation and environmental management services in the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  Martin is also Chair of the NI Protected Areas Network (NIPAN) an informal umbrella body for AONB groups and organisations undertaking similar activities in other high value landscape areas. Prior to taking up his current position Martin worked in local government in an economic development role, having previously spent 6 years in the private sector working on public policy related consultancy assignments.

Kevin O’Neill
Disability Sport NI, Chief Executive Officer
Kevin is the Chief Executive Officer of Disability Sport NI, Northern Ireland’s main disability sports charity working to improve the health and wellbeing of disabled people through sport and active recreation. He has over 25 years’ experience working in the disability and sports sectors and is committed to the inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of sport and outdoor recreation.
He has led on the development of a number projects and initiatives actively concerned with getting more disabled people active in the outdoors. Most recently this has included the innovative ‘All Out Trekking’ project at Gosford Forest Park and the development and launch of Disability Sport NI’s ‘Accessible Outdoor Places Design Guidelines’.

The next two expert panels on creating healthy communities and the environment through outdoor recreation will be released over the next two weeks.