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2016 Conference see GAA stars/clubs shine light on Health & Wellbeing


300 delegates attended the GAA’s third annual health and wellbeing forum and conference in association with Irish Life

A sense of purpose and of a movement taking shape were two of the take-away experiences at the GAA’s annual health & Wellbeing Conference in Croke Park on October 22.

Rolled out in partnership with Irish Life and Healthy Ireland, the free conference gathered together some of the GAA’s leading health proponents and practitioners to dissect the many facets of life and sport that help support our wellbeing. The theme ‘Healthy Clubs…Healthy Games’ was vividly brought to life by keynote speaker Professor Niall Moyna, of DCU, and member of the GAA’s Medical, Scientific, and Player Welfare committee. His invigorating and enthralling address highlighted the health challenges facing Ireland but also justified why the GAA must maximise its potential as a remedy, while praising those taking up this charge.

A series of interactive workshops featured special guest contributions and a case study from one of the 60 clubs participating in the GAA Healthy Clubs project. They included:

Activate: How to Make Your Club more Physically Active:

Featuring contributions from Kilkenny All-star Micheal Fennelly, a lecturer in Nutrition, Coaching and Sports Performance for Limerick IT, and the Aghamore club in Mayo who run a very successful operation transformation type event for their community.

Healthy Eating – Recipes for Success:

Featuring Sharon Courtney, Monaghan Ladies Football All-Star and lecturer in Sport & Exercise Nutrition in Dundalk IT, with a case study by Laois Healthy Club, Clonad, who have rolled out this programme with notable success.

Mental Fitness – The Ways to Wellbeing:

Featuring Lauralee Walsh, Westmeath ladies footballer and Irish international rugby player, with a case study by the Craobh Chiaráin, Dublin, a club that has prioritised mental fitness as part of their Healthy Club journey.

The Social Initiative – The importance of making your club Age Friendly:

With Professor Eamon O’Shea, inaugural Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, and former Tipperary senior hurling manager. Eamon was joined by the Galway’s Healthy Club, Ballindeerin, who are ensuring that their club is a hub for older members of their community.

Gambling Awareness – Cutting the Odds:

Fresh from another county title with his club Rhode, Niall McNamee, Offaly footballer and gambling awareness advocate with the GPA along with former Galway hurler and addiction counsellor Justin Campbell, explored this topic in depth with the intention of informing the GAA’s work in gambling awareness.

Delegates included leaders from the 32 counties who have taken on the role of health and wellbeing officer in their club. They joined representatives of the GAA’s 32 County Health & Wellbeing Committees who also attended a special forum on the Friday evening to workshop their action plans for the coming 12 months and to reflect on and review their exceptional work over the past year. Friday night also the 60 Healthy Club project teams receive training on their new portal which aims to capture their journeys towards being recognised as flagship healthy Clubs in their communities.  

Special guests

Saturday’s conference was opened by Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. Minister Corcoran Kennedy described the work of the GAA Healthy Club project and the County Health and Wellbeing Committees as truly inspirational in the context of the sporting world and stated ‘as a national governing body the GAA is exemplary with the commitment to promote health and wellbeing’.

The event closed with RTE’s Evanne Ní Chuilinn chairing a stimulating debate amongst the panel of special guests touching on their personal experiences of health and wellbeing while also fielding probing questions from the floor.

The GAA Health & Wellbeing Forum and Conference weekend has been made possible by Irish Life’s generous corporate social responsibility investment which is dedicated to changing lives for the better in communities across the 32 counties through the GAA Healthy Club project. The event also supports the ideals of Healthy Ireland.

Conference presentations and videos will be available from the November 9th. If you would like further information about the work of the Community & Health Section then please contact community.health@gaa.ie. 

Training for new club health and wellbeing officers will be made available in your county at the start of 2017. Watch out for details from your county health & wellbeing committee. 

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