HCP - The Story so far
Phase 1 of the innovative Healthy Club project (March 2013- July 2015) included 16 clubs across the 4 provinces. The interim report by the independent evaluation team from Waterford IT highlighted the exceptional work being undertaken by the participating clubs and the positive impact this is having on members and their communities. It also highlighted the benefit of growing this programme and making it available to a wider selection of interested clubs. (Click on icon on bottom of page to download full report.) While much of their important work goes unrecognised outside their own membership and communities, many of the pilot ‘Healthy Clubs’ are gaining recognition for their efforts. St. Colmcille’s was awarded REHAB Community group of the year for Meath in 2013 while Castleblayney Faughs picked up the same accolade in Monaghan as well as being announced Ulster Club of the Year 2014. St. Finbarr’s and Midleton were awarded joint first place in the national Health Management Institute awards 2014 by the Minister for Health for their ground-breaking ‘Cork Beats Stress’ programme rolled out with the HSE Psychological services which benefited hundreds of people in their catchment areas. The other clubs are engaged in equally innovative and exciting work on behalf of their members and communities.
Of course this work takes great efforts from already busy volunteers. Two of the original 18 clubs have been forced to withdraw from Phase 1 of the programme due to a change in executive priorities in one case and the emigration of key personnel in the other. While a small attrition rate is to be expected in any such long-term initiative it reinforces the importance of aligning engagement with individual club capacities.
Phase 1 Evaluation Report
The independent evaluation of Phase 1 carried out by a team from Waterford IT’s Centre for Health Behavioural Research identified the following impacts:
- Increase in club membership numbers
- Greater potential to access funding (statutory/philanthropic) and new sponsorship opportunities
- Better member and public perception of the club, greater awareness of health issues and services, and increased engagement with club activities and improved health behaviours
- 72 initiatives were delivered across seven target areas in clubs and communities (physical activity, diet/nutrition, health awareness, emotional well-being, social inclusion, anti-bullying, smoking/alcohol). Ratings showed that almost 60% of the initiatives were deemed moderate impact, 36% low and the remaining 4% rated as high impact.
- Community links and partnerships with service providers increased significantly
It is important that we continue to evaluate the Healthy Club project as it is a novel undertaking across European sport and Phase 2 remains a learning stage for all involved. Phase 2 evaluation will continue to test both the model and its outcomes/impact as we strive towards open access for all interested GAA clubs in Phase 3 in 2018. The evaluation also seeks to highlight the important work of the initiative and its value, identify best practice, and ensure it is having the intended impact.
The learnings from Phase 2 will help us adapt the Healthy Club model to ensure that it is fit for purpose as we strive towards open access for all interested GAA clubs in the future phases of the project. The evaluation findings will also help all Healthy Clubs receive the recognition deserved both nationally and internationally.
Following an expression of interest sent to all GAA clubs in December 2015, 100 clubs applied to participate in Phase 2 with 60 selected (with at least one in each county) representing the full spectrum of GAA club life (see full list of participating clubs here). In February 2016 participating clubs received Club Health & Wellbeing Officer training which focuses on the foundation, or building blocks of a “Healthy Club”.
Healthy Club project teams were established in each club as the main drivers of the project and whose main duties include producing a simple healthy club plan, identifying local partners, both within the club and wider community who can feed into their plan, organising events supporting the plan and creating a culture within the club that enhances health and wellbeing. Their innovative and tireless work spans across all areas of health and wellbeing including:
- Healthy Eating (Recipes for Success)
- Weight management
- Engagement with older members through social dining, video clubs, card games, photography club, history group outings, nursing home visits etc.
- Screening, health checks, blood donations
- Safe Sun Campaigns
- Defibrillator, CPR and First Aid training courses
- Alternative physical activity initiatives including Recreational Rounders, Couch to 5km, Operation Transformation, Boxercise, Yoga, Mountain hikes, walking groups, cycling etc.
- Emotional wellbeing
- Stress control
- Gambling and Addiction
- Bullying, Healthy Social Media, SAOR workshops and personal development
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Tobacco- free GAA clubs
- Family fun days
- Road Safety