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500 to Attend Healthy Club Conference

Friday 19.10.2018
Team Talk Mag

A crowd of more than 500 people from across all 32 counties will attended the GAA’s Healthy Club Conference which takes place at Croke Park this Saturday.

The conference, which is being run in conjunction with Healthy Ireland and supported by Irish Life, is the latest chapter in the success story and growth of the GAA’s Healthy Club project which looks to embed the importance of health and wellbeing in the thousands of communities that are served by our network of clubs.

This initiative began as a pilot project in 16 clubs in 2013 and has grown to now being enthusiastically delivered in 150 clubs across Ireland. It is driven nationally by the GAA’s Community & Health department with support by Health & Wellbeing committees in each county. As ever in the GAA, it is the efforts of volunteer Healthy Clubs officers that bring the project to life for the betterment of communities across Ireland.

The Healthy Club goal is to make GAA Clubs a hub for health and wellbeing in their community both on and off the field.

Dublin midfield star and footballer of the year nominee Brian Fenton will be in attendance as a Healthy Club ambassador. Brian is a member of the Raheny club on Dublin’s northside, a club that has been leading the way at community inclusion through their Raheny all-star games for local children with special needs.

A key feature of the day-long event will see the unveiling of the inaugural Healthy Club Heroes – a list of 23 club volunteers from across all four provinces who have gone over and above in their dedication and implementation of the Healthy Club project, and who have been nominated by their communities for special recognition. (Contd…)
GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Tom Ryan said: “There is so much more to a GAA club than the games that we promote and the Healthy Club Project is the perfect embodiment of this.

“The GAA is many things but, it is fundamentally about People coming together and working together. Our clubs are the lynchpin of the communities, towns and villages in which they are based. The work of the Healthy Club project champions the ethos that a club is about the community it serves. Whether young or old, a player, administrator, volunteer or supporter – there is a place for everyone and the Healthy Club really facilitates this.

“Not every club is lucky enough to win a Championship on the field. But through this initiative it is possible for every club to be a winner in terms of the role it plays in supporting our members and communities in health and wellbeing and my congratulations to all those who continue to set such high standards.

“I also want to acknowledge the on-going support of our Healthy Club partners, Healthy Ireland, the National Office for Suicide Prevention, and Irish Life, in backing this innovative project and helping accelerate its growth beyond our initial expectations.”

David Harney, CEO, Irish Life said:
“Irish Life are delighted to work with the GAA on the Healthy Club project. The project brings a new dimension to the positive impact that the GAA brings to communities across Ireland. The huge demand for this year’s Healthy Club conference shows the appetite that exists for this important work and Irish Life is delighted to support GAA volunteers across the 32 counties on their Healthy Club journey. We believe this work has the potential to improve the future health of communities across the country.”

Kate O’Flaherty, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Department of Health, said:
“Healthy Ireland is dedicated to an Ireland where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential, where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society and is everyone’s responsibility. The GAA Healthy Club project helps to bring such ideals to life in a real and tangible way in communities across Ireland. We are delighted to support its continued growth and impact and want to thank all the GAA volunteers who are driving the project on behalf of their members and communities. We would also like to acknowledge Irish Life’s CSR support for the project and this partnership.”

Typically, Healthy Clubs engage with their members and communities to identify health topics they would like to see prioritised. The most common themes Healthy Clubs address include healthy eating, emotional wellbeing and mental fitness, physical activity for non-playing members, gambling drug and alcohol education (including becoming smoke-free clubs), and engaging older members of their communities. Many also focus on ensuring that their clubs are inclusive to persons with special needs and minority groups or ‘new Irish’ populations.

Colin Regan, GAA Health and Wellbeing Manager said: “The Healthy Club project can also offer a role for people who may not have been previously involved in their local club as a player or a member of an executive but who has an interest in health and wellbeing. It has been a great pathway for many parents of young members to contribute positively to their club and community.”

Three key themes the conference will focus on are:

WALKING FOR HEALTH which will see the GAA again partner with RTÉ’s Operation Transformation TV programme and Get Ireland Walking this coming January. Last year there were 5,000 people who participated in the ‘Ireland Lights Up’ initiative that saw GAA clubs turn on their floodlights on the dark winter evening to facilitate community walking groups. The January 2019 target is for this number to grow to 10,000 people.

GAMES FOR ALL. This workshop seeks to explore what inclusion means in a GAA club setting, focusing primarily on the provision of games for persons of all abilities and needs. It will highlight some of the resources, supports, and training available to assist GAA clubs in this field.

The workshop will highlight the potential for clubs to deliver Fun and Run, the most recent addition to the GAA’s family of games, as an appropriate vehicle for an inclusive, family-friendly participation game for all.

THE GAA RESPECT INITIATIVE. The workshop aims to create an awareness of the Give Respect – Get Respect Initiative, its key messages, and how it fits naturally with the health and wellbeing of young players and how it may be adopted and implemented at Club level.

Each workshop will feature a case study highlighting what a Healthy Club is already doing to bring each of the topics to life in their club.

The Healthy Club project will open to new clubs in January 2020. In the interim, training for interested clubs will be rolled out in each county between November and April enabling them to start the ball rolling.

For more information on the GAA Healthy Club Project, contact Colin Regan on



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