The GAA has launched the next stage of their pioneering project to transform Ireland’s GAA clubs into ground-breaking healthy hubs. With almost as many GAA clubs in Ireland as there are GP’s the purpose of the Healthy Club Programme has been to build up the idea of the local club as a community hub for improved physical, social and mental wellbeing.
The programme was launched in 2013 with the support of the HSE, National Office for Suicide Prevention, Irish Life and Healthy Ireland.
Each participating club is supported in how best to make their club more health-enhancing, covering a variety of topics including physical activity; emotional wellbeing; health screening; healthy eating; drug, alcohol, and gambling education; anti-smoking; youth and community development, alongside providing activities for older members of the community.
The project has already run to huge success in 60 clubs nationally, hosting wide-ranging initiatives such as “Operation TransFAUGHmation” (Castleblayney Faughs, Monaghan) which started out with 105 participants in 2011 and has grown to 250 people taking part in 2016.
The award-winning “Cork Beats Stress” (Midleton GAA and St Finbarr’s GAA clubs in Cork) saw over 300 participants in a proactive mental health management programme, and the Healthy Food Made Easy initiative (Thomas Davis GAA Club, Dublin) taught people (ranging between 37 to 90 years) how to prepare healthy food.
Ballinderreen GAA Club in Galway are bridging the gap with older members of the community through the provision of monthly lunch clubs. To date the club have dished out 260 lunches to residents from the local nursing home Blake Manor, service users of the Brothers of Charity and many residents of the community.
For the past few years, the GAA has worked on empowering clubs by establishing health and wellbeing committees at national, provincial, and county level, while also recommending that all clubs appoint a health and wellbeing officer.
“In 2016 we received requests for support in the aftermath of 38 critical incidents,” said GAA Community and Health manager, Colin Regan.
“Members, clubs and counties were seeking help and advice across a range of different topics including suicide and mental health problems, gambling addiction, and tragic deaths.”
“While we will always be there to support our members in the aftermath of a tragedy, we hope that the proactive work of the Healthy Club project can help reduce the number of such incidents.”
“GAA clubs have always supported the health of their communities,” added GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail.
“However, with the support of the HSE, the National Office for Suicide Prevention, the PHA, and Irish Life, the Healthy Clubs project is providing GAA members and their communities across the 32 counties with innovative new ways of enhancing their wellbeing on their terms, in their own back yards.”
The GAA is supporting the wider roll out of the programme with a series of roadshows in Mayo, Cork, Dublin and Belfast in the coming weeks. They will be attended by Programme ambassadors Aoife Lane, Chairperson of the Women’s Gaelic Players Association; Philly McMahon, Gaelic footballer for Dublin and Ballymun Kickhams; Mickey Harte, manager of the Tyrone senior inter-county team and Michael Fennelly, hurler with the Kilkenny senior team.
“The challenges facing our population are significant, so we need to have an impact across all of society to improve our collective health and wellbeing,” said Marcella Corcoran, Minister of State for Health Promotion.
“As a national organisation working in every county and community, the GAA is an important partner in creating a healthier Ireland.”
“The Healthy Club initiative, supported by Irish Life, is an exemplar of the partnership approach needed under Healthy Ireland. I was delighted to learn about the many initiatives underway at the GAA’s recent Health and Wellbeing Conference in Croke Park and I wish them every success with the roadshow being launched today.”
There are numerous benefits to clubs to take part in the GAA HCP including exclusive access to Healthy Club resources.
“Irish Life are delighted to work with the GAA on the Healthy Club initiative. The GAA, reaches into every community on the island of Ireland, and has a significant role to play in the health of the nation through its promotion of Gaelic Games,” added David Harney, CEO of Irish Life.
“The association’s Healthy Club initiative brings a new dimension to this work. It enables people to access health in an exciting new way. We believe this work has the potential to improve the future health of communities across the country.”
|Launch:||January 16th||Craobh Chiarain GAA Club (Dublin)||10am – 12.30pm|
|Connacht Roadshow:||February 4th||Centre of Excellence Ballyhaunis (Mayo)||10am – 2pm
|Munster Roadshow:||February 18th||Nemo Rangers GAA Club (Cork)||10am – 2pm
|Leinster Roadshow:||March 11th||Croke Park (Dublin)||10am – 2pm
|Ulster Roadshow:||April 1st||Jordanstown University of Ulster (Belfast)||10am – 2pm
Among the ambassadors supporting the Programme in 2017 are
Anna Geary is an MC and public speaker and former camogie player and captain for Cork senior team. Anna is passionate about health, wellbeing and fitness and contributor to RTE’s Today Show on these topics and coach on RTE’s Ireland’s Fittest Family. During her camogie career Anna won four All-Ireland Championship medals, three All-Star awards and three All-Ireland club medals.
Dr Aoife Lane, a native of Ballinderreen in Galway, is the Head of Department of Sport and Health Science in Athlone Institute of Technology. Aoife has lectured and currently undertakes research in the area of physical activity and wellbeing, with a particular interest in using sport as a setting for health promotion for players, clubs, and communities. Aoife played camogie with her club Ballinderreen and at colleges level with University of Limerick and NUI Galway. Aoife is Chairperson of the Women’s Gaelic Players Association and a member of the National GAA Health and Wellbeing Steering Committee. [Anna’s replacement at the launch]
Michael Fennelly is a hurler with the Kilkenny senior team and a lecturer in nutrition in Limerick Institute of Technology. To date, Michael has won six All-Ireland medals, four Leinster medals and four National Hurling League medals. At club level he is a three-time All-Ireland medallist with Ballyhale Shamrocks
Mickey Harte is the most successful football manager of the Tyrone senior inter-county team. To date is has led Tyrone to three All-Ireland titles, five Ulster titles, one National League, and nine Dr. McKenna Cups. Considered one of the best tacticians in the game, Harte is admired both by peers and former rivals. The media have compared him to a statesman for his willingness to unite divided communities in Northern Ireland.
Philly McMahon is 4 time All-Ireland winner with Dublin, recipient of 2 All-Star awards and winner of 7 Leinster senior football titles. Philly is owner of FitFood Ireland and BeDo7 and understands the commitment it takes to be a champion. He uses FitFood for planning his meals and trains hard to be at his best. Philly believes that if you marry both your nutrition and fitness you can achieve great things, regardless of your age or current body condition. Philly established BeDo7 Fitness Club (formally, BK Fitness) to change the way we look at the “gym” as an activity. BeDo7 Fitness Clubs are unique high performance gyms with no gimmicks, and no a nonsense attitude towards hard training.