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Research reveals Ceol le Cheile is good for your health

New research into the impact of Ceol le Cheile, Donegal’s Intergenerational Choir has found that it’s not only good for your mental wellbeing but it’s good for your physical health too.

Participants revealed through this research that they found a stark improvement in their physical health with improvements being experienced in memory function, respiratory health as well as in posture, stamina and energy levels.

Donegal native Rebecca Prunty, a student at Sligo IT, carried out research to explore the impact of the Donegal intergenerational choir through analysing the thoughts, opinions and attitudes of Ceol le Chéile members and key personnel and agencies. This research was funded by the HSE.

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“Fifty-three participants completed review questionnaires and qualitative data was obtained from focus groups with choir members, interviews with key personnel and agencies and individual choir members” explains Rebecca Prunty.

“11 older adults took part in the adult focus group and 5 children engaged in a child friendly focus group discussion. Information was sought about each interviewee’s involvement in the choir through one-to-one, semi-structured interviews”.

The research found that older adults appreciate the opportunity to engage in a scheduled social activity every week and that Ceol le Chéile’ has become the highlight of their week.

One adult participant revealed “since I retired about 9 years ago, I’ve been looking for a choir to join… I just love that social aspect of singing together”. Another adult respondent said “at rehearsals I always have a laugh. I think laughter is as good as singing. It really gels people together”.

While one of the younger participants described the choir as a ‘big family’ saying “we are like a big family because we have friends that are young and old”.

Previous research into the impact of singing in choirs has revealed that it can reduce social isolation, encourage positive aging, promote the development of relationships, promote intergenerational learning and intergenerational solidarity.

Speaking at the launch of the research on Tuesday last as part of Social Inclusion Week, Anne McAteer from the HSE said “it is clear that Ceol le Chéile has had a huge impact on participants health and wellbeing and through this research we have been able to capture this impact. I would like to thank Rebecca Prundy for this excellent report and the members of the choir who participated so willingly. The findings of this report will help guide and shape future initiatives as well as further studies.”

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Ceol le Cheile was established in 2018 and is a flagship initiative of the Donegal Age Friendly Initiative.

Seamus Neely Chief Executive of Donegal County Council and chair of the Donegal Age Friendly Committee believes that Ceol le Cheile has been a huge success and this is testament to the hard work of the choral director Veronica McCarron, Council staff including Mairead Cranley and her team in the Councils Social Inclusion Unit but most importantly the participants who have given so freely of their time and have embraced the very essence of what the choir is all about. He also acknowledged support from various agencies including the HSE and LYIT.

Cllr Nicholas Crossan, Cathoirleach of Donegal County Council says that this research will go a long way in capturing the value of this initiative especially for the participants saying “this research presents very clearly the impact that Ceol le Cheile Choir has had on the lives of those who have taken part over the last year and a half. I believe that the recommendations that Rebecca has presented in the report will help guide and shape the future of the project and I would like to thank both Rebecca Prundy and Anne McAteer from the HSE for their great work in undertaking this research”.

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