We are delighted to have attended an awards ceremony in Croke park last Friday, honouring the 57 clubs around the country who embraced the healthy club initiative. We’ve come a long way since its beginning, under the stewardship of Pat Kelly and Gwen Lanigan and there are a huge amount of activities available in our club.
We were represented on the day by Pat Kelly, James Kelly and Jackser Kavanagh. Some of our younger members were invited up also to participate in the photo shoot for the press release also.
St Colmcilles and Kiltale GAA amongst the first official GAA Healthy Clubs to receive national recognition
- The award winning Healthy Clubs Project (HCP) aims to turn clubs into hubs for health in their communities
- With almost the same number of GAA clubs as GPs across Ireland, the project offers a new setting in which to deliver health promotion and interventions
- Leading GAA ambassador Seán Cavanagh strongly commends the club for their leadership
4th November A special ceremony with governmental representation in Croke Park today saw 58 GAA clubs recognised as the first official ‘Healthy Clubs’ on the island of Ireland.
Twenty Leinster clubs, including St Colmcilles and Kiltale GAA in Meath, can now proudly fly a flag above their grounds (endorsed by both Healthy Ireland and the Public Health Agency in NI), letting their members and communities know that they value health and wellbeing as much as leagues and championships.
In January 2016, almost 100 clubs applied to participate in Phase 2 of the project (just 16 participated in Phase 1 between 2013-2015). Many cited the dearth of services in their communities that are tackling issues such as obesity, sedentary lifestyles, mental health and suicide. They wanted to be part of the solution.
Clubs engage with their members and community before identifying health themes upon which to focus on. Most common include healthy eating; physical activity for non-playing members; emotional wellbeing; engaging older members of the community; youth development; gambling, drug, and alcohol education; and inclusion and integration. Almost half of the clubs (29) also opted to become completely smoke-free venues as part of their 18-month journey.
Progressive GAA clubs, St Colmcilles and Kiltale are the first clubs in Meath to receive national recognition. Their various health and wellbeing initiatives have had a tremendous impact on their clubs and wider communities. St Colmcilles community development programme – ’How are you feeling today?’ gives the club a focal point in the community while at the same time providing personal development skills. It does this through initiatives such as mindfulness classes, health and nutrition classes, dance classes, Irish classes, card games and facilitating a men’s shed on their grounds. Fantastic results from the programme showed that at least 80% of all participants felt that the initiative had a good/excellent impact on their awareness, knowledge and skills around maintaining health and wellbeing. The majority of attendees were not members of St. Colmcilles Club and had no previous connection to the club. Leading GAA Healthy Club ambassador, Anna Geary visited the club earlier in the year as part of the RTE Today show and was “blown away” by the impact the progamme was having in the community. She said “it brought people into the local GAA club with little or no previous involvement in Gaelic Games”.
Another great initiative taking place in Meath as part of the HCP is the Kiltale Hurling & Camogie Club’s ‘Operation Transformation’. This is a 6-week physical activity and fitness initiative aimed at increasing health awareness and helping the community to become a healthier place. It is aimed at both men and women who would like to get active, lose weight, be part of a group, tone up, improve sleep, increase energy levels, and above all have fun and enjoy the walks. Participants are offered a schedule off weekly exercise classes, confidential weigh ins to monitor progress, alongside guest speakers who support the participants on their fitness journey.
Former Tyrone football captain Seán Cavanagh is a big supporter of the GAA’s Healthy Club Project (HCP) and presented the clubs with their official flag and plaque in Croke Park on Saturday, November 4th. He said “I’ve seen myself how the GAA brings communities together in so many different ways so it’s fantastic to see the association taking a leadership role in developing healthier communities. The Healthy Clubs around the country are having a positive impact on so many children and young people and as a parent I think it is fantastic. Through this project I think people will start to appreciate the role of the GAA in our communities even more.”
The innovative Healthy Club model was developed in partnership with Healthy Ireland, the HSE’s health promotion division, the National Office for Suicide Prevention, and is supported by Irish Life through a CSR investment. In an era of unprecedented societal health challenges, the Healthy Club Project aims to harness the potential of the GAA club setting to deliver evidence-based health promotion information and interventions, backed up by appropriate policies and partnerships. Its potential to be replicated by other sports is currently being explored by a working group involving the FAI, IRFU, and Athletics Ireland.
Similar work is being undertaken across European sports associations, and for the past three years the GAA has contributed its learnings to the EU-wide Sports Clubs for Health project. This culminated with the GAA’s Community & Health manager, Colin Regan, presenting on the Healthy Club project to a sub-committee of the EU Parliament in Brussels in April.
The Healthy Clubs project is being independently evaluated by a team from Waterford IT’s Centre for Health Behaviour Research. While the final report into Phase 2 won’t be available until December, the research team have already noted significant successes (see editor’s notes for examples of successful interventions).
Aogán Ó Fearghail, An Uachtarán Cumann Luthchleas Gael said, “The 58 Healthy Clubs recognised today have gone above and beyond what is normally expected of a sports club. Health and wellbeing is core to what the GAA is all about and these clubs help bring that to life. I’d like to thank our partners, Healthy Ireland, the HSE, National Office for Suicide Prevention, the Public Health Agency, and Irish Life, for helping to make the Healthy Club project the success it is. We look forward to growing it from strength to strength.”
Recognising the achievements of the clubs in Croke Park at the Healthy Club Recognition Event is Catherine Byrne, Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Department of Health (ROI). She said, “Today is all about recognition for the clubs and the volunteers who make this happen at club level. I would like to congratulate all of the clubs and volunteers involved and acknowledge the contribution that they are all making to bring the vision for Healthy Ireland to life: where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential”
David Harney, CEO, Irish Life said, “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. 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.”
There are numerous benefits to clubs that take part in the GAA HCP including exclusive access to Healthy Club resources and support. The independent evaluation by Waterford IT’s Centre for Health Behaviour Research of Phase 1 of the HCP revealed its potential to increase membership, improvements in health promoting activities, better opportunity to link the local community with club activities and opening up new funding avenues all the while enhancing the health of the nation and ensuring a healthier future for everyone.
The GAA hope to extend the project to 150 clubs in Phase 3 (with expressions of interest to open in early 2018) before opening the project to all interested clubs in 2020. There are 1,600 clubs in Ireland and over 400 abroad.
For more information, visit: www.gaa.ie/community
Follow: @officialgaa or Like: www.facebook.com/officialgaa/ #gaahealth
St Colmcilles GAA Club, Meath Case Study
‘How are you feeling today? – Community development programme’
Members of the St. Comcilles Healthy Club project team developed the “How are you feeling today” programme in 2013 with the help of Genio Trust, to give their community a focal point while at the same time providing personal development skills through initiatives such as mindfulness classes, health and nutrition classes, dance classes, card games and facilitating a men’s shed on their grounds.
The classes were free and open to everyone in the community and one of the most popular, mindfulness, which is still going strong today, attracts 30- 40 regular adults on a weekly basis. However, many more have come and gone and benefitted from the classes. The majority of attendees were not members of St. Colmcilles club and had no previous connection to the club. At least 80% of all participants felt that the initiative had a good/excellent impact on their awareness, knowledge and skills around maintaining health and wellbeing, “I feel my life has changed, for years I suffered with panic and anxiety and now with my class every Tuesday, which I would never miss, I have found coping skills.”
As well as the many benefits the programme has brought to participants and the wider community, the club is also seeing benefits as participants have become more engaged in club activities with 92% joining other club social activities and 82% had continues or increased support for club fundraising.
Kiltale Hurling & Camogie Club, Meath Case Study
Kiltale’s Operation Transformation is a 6 week physical activity/fitness initiative aimed at increasing health awareness and helping the community to become a healthier place. It is open to everyone in the community regardless of fitness level. It is aimed at both men and women who would like to get active, lose weight, be part of a group, tone up, improve sleep, increase energy levels, and above all have fun and enjoy the walks. It ran from the 4th of January to the 18th of February 2017 and will culminated with a 5km walk and a social evening in the Kiltale Clubhouse.
The programme aims to promote a healthier lifestyle and way of life within the community and encourage people to get involved in exercise while using the GAA facilities and getting them more socially interactive with people involved in the club. Participants are offered a schedule off weekly exercise classes as well as confidential weigh in’s to monitor progress. Guest Speakers supported the participants on their fitness journey by providing advice on basic health and fitness as well as tasty nutritional recipes.
- Fifty- eight progressive GAA clubs across the 4 provinces awarded for transforming their clubs into ground-breaking community healthy hubs.
- Leading GAA ambassador Seán Cavanagh refers the clubs as “inspirational leaders” in Croke Park at the Official Recognition event
The GAA is delighted to award and recognise 58 exemplar GAA clubs (at least one in each county) with Official “Healthy Club” status. Over the last number of years these clubs have participated in the GAA’s flagship Healthy Clubs pilot which is backed by Irish Life and Healthy Ireland. This involved supporting clubs to make their club more health-enhancing through a variety of health and wellbeing programmes and initiatives including healthy eating; becoming a smoke-free club; physical activity for non-playing members; engaging older members of the community; emotional wellbeing; youth development; gambling, drug, and alcohol education; and inclusion and integration.
The impact on the clubs has been transformative in terms of improvements in health promoting activities, better opportunity to link the local community with club activities, increased membership and opening up new funding avenues all the while enhancing the health of their communities and ensuring a healthier future for everyone who engages with their club.
The following clubs are amongst the first clubs in the association to receive official Healthy Club Recognition (2018- 2020) following successful completion in the GAA Healthy Club Project (HCP)
Mount Leinster Rangers GAA Club Carlow
Clara GAA Kilkenny
Dromard GAA Club Longford
Castletown Liam Mellows GAA Club Wexford
St. John’s Volunteers GAA Club Wexford
St. Kevin’s GAA Club Louth
Bray Emmets GAA Club Wicklow
Annacurra GAA Club Wicklow
St. Loman’s Mullingar GAA Club Westmeath
Ballynacargy GAA Westmeath
Tubber GAA Club Offaly
Clonad GAA Club Laois
Kilmacud Crokes GAA Club Dublin
Raheny GAA Club Dublin
Good Counsel GAA & Camogie Club Dublin
Craobh Chiaráin GAA Club Dublin
Thomas Davis GAA Club Dublin
Castlemitchell GFC Kildare
Kiltale Hurling & Camogie Club Meath
St. Colmcille’s GAA Club Meath
An Caisléan Glas Cumann Naoimh Padraig Tyrone
Omagh, St. Enda’s GAA Club Tyrone
Castleblayney Faughs GFC Monaghan
Derrygonnelly Harps GFC Fermanagh
Erne Gaels GAC Fermanagh
Clonduff GAC Down
St. Peter’s GAA Club Warrenpoint Down
St. Johns GAA Club Drumnaquoile Down
Michael Davitt GAC Swatragh Derry
Killygarry GAA Club Cavan
Cavan Gaels GAA Club Cavan
St Joseph’s GAC Glenavy Antrim
St. Mary’s GAC Rasharkin Antrim
Naomh Mochua Doire Núis GAA Club Armagh
Culloville Blues GAC Armagh
St Mary’s GAA Club, Convoy Donegal
CLG Naomh Muire, Íochtar Na Rossan Donegal
Ballinderreen GAA Club Galway
Melvin Gaels GAA Club Leitrim
Aghamore GAA Club Mayo
Achill GAA Club Mayo
St. Michael’s GAA Club Sligo
Eastern Harps GAA Club Sligo
St. Aidan’s GAA Club Roscommon
Oran GAA Club Roscommon
Killeagh GAA Club Cork
Castlehaven GAA Club Cork
St. Finbarr’s National Hurling & Football Club Cork
Midleton Hurling & Football Club Cork
JK Bracken’s GAA Club Tipperary
Fr. Sheehy’s GAA Club Tipperary
Nenagh Éire Óg GAA Club Tipperary
Na Piarsaigh GAA Club Limerick
Mungret St. Paul’s GAA Club Limerick
Parteen GAA Club Clare
Tralee Parnell’s Hurling & Camogie Club Kerry
Beaufort GAA Club Kerry
Brickey Rangers GAA Club Waterford