The GAA have to launched the next stage of its Healthy Clubs Project (Monday) and are encouraging more GAA clubs get involved to support communities in pursuit of better physical, social, and mental wellbeing.
Created in 2013, with the support of the HSE, National Office for Suicide Prevention, Irish Life and Healthy Ireland, the intention of the HCP is that every GAA club will become a hub for health and wellbeing.
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.
Impressive Track Record
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) which saw over 300 participants in a proactive mental health management programme, and the Healthy Food Made Easy initiative (Thomas David GAA Club, Dublin) which taught people (ranging between 37 to 90 years) how to prepare delicious 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, GAA Community & Health manager, Colin Regan, explains;
“In 2016 we received requests for support in the aftermath of 38 critical incidents. 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.”
Kilkenny and Ballyhale Shamrocks midfielder Michael Fennelly, himself a professional fitness coach and a lecturer in nutrition in Limerick Institute of Technology, is part of the project.
“I’m delighted to be an ambassador for the Healthy Clubs Project, and I’ve seen myself that the programs have the potential to make huge impacts to the many families that look to their local GAA club as a centre of the community.
I’ve been involved with GAA myself from as a child, as have so many other members of my family, and I think the GAA club is the perfect model to set people up with incredible fitness and health habits that will stand you in great stead your whole life.”
To better inform interested new clubs about the project, the GAA will be hosting informative roadshows across the four provinces from the beginning of February. The Healthy Club ambassadors (pictured above) will attend each event, while a selection of the 60 clubs currently engaged in Phase 2 will also showcase some of their exciting work and projects.
The Leinster roadshow will take place on 11 March in Croke Park from 10am to 2pm. For more information, visit gaa.ie/community