The Healthy Club Project: keeping GAA’s values to the fore

GAA Healthy Club Roadshow – Ulster at Jordanstown Ulster University, in Belfast. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Short Bio: The GAA Community & Health Department aims to ensure that the health and well-being of members, clubs, and communities is at the core of all GAA activity. The award-winning Healthy Club project which is supported by Irish Life and Healthy Ireland ensures that clubs become hubs for health empowering their members and communities to enjoy healthier lifestyles.

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In an era when much of sport’s worth has become associated with winning alone, the Healthy Club Project (HCP) aims to champion the deeper values associated with the GAA: those of community, identity, volunteerism, inclusivity, health and wellbeing, and the opportunity to express oneself regardless of perceived abilities. Participating clubs work with their members and their communities to identify priority areas to target over an 18-month period. Popular topics include healthy eating; becoming a smoke-free club; physical activity for non-playing members; engaging older members of the community; emotional wellbeing; gambling, drug, and alcohol education; and inclusion and integration (including the
provision of recreational Games for All). We know that the GAA already makes a significant contribution to the health of the nation through the promotion and provision of Gaelic Games. The HCP aims to build on this by making our clubs a
hub for health within their community; one that everyone can experience and enjoy. At a reception in Croke Park on November 4th, the 58 clubs that recently completed Phase 2 were awarded recognition by An Uachtarán CLG, Aogán Ó Fearghail and the Minister for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne, as the Association’s first official ‘Healthy Clubs’.
Benefits experienced by clubs include increased membership; exclusive access to healthy club resources; improvements in the health-promoting activities of the club; better engagement with club activities; opening up funding avenues; better opportunity to link the local community with club activities.

The project is overseen by a national Steering Committee that features representation from the project’s official partners: Healthy Ireland, the HSE (health promotion department); the National Office for Suicide Prevention, and Irish Life, who support the project through a CSR investment.