The GAA Social Initiative
The GAA Social Initiative Story so Far...
The GAA Social Initiative continues to grow in its capacity to enrich the lives of all older members of our communities while specifically reaching out to isolated older men across the 32 counties.
From its genesis in the observations of then President Mary McAleese of a dearth of older men at events she attended across the island of Ireland, it has grown from a small pilot project involving GAA clubs across four counties to one of the Association’s flagship community outreach projects. Great work was done during its first two years by then Project Manager Sean Kilbride to establish the model. The reins have now been taken up by GAA Community & Health team, who are working towards embedding the GAA Social Initiative in the fabric of the Association while enabling additional clubs to reach those people most likely to benefit from its aim of enriching the lives of those experiencing isolation and loneliness in all our communities.
The Social Initiative Mission
The mission of the GAA Social Initiative is to make clubs more age-friendly, by increasing the participation of older members of society, with a focus on older men, through events specifically designed to enrich their lives and respect the important contribution they have made and can continue to make to community life.
The GAA’s mission statement states: “The GAA is a community based volunteer organisation promoting Gaelic Games, culture and lifelong participation”. For many age-groups, our games can meet their participation needs, however, as an adult gets older their needs increase while participation opportunities diminish. The reality is that many fall away from their GAA club and the connection with what once was an integral part of their lives dwindles. This can in turn lead to less engagement with their community as a whole. The GAA is committed to reversing this trend through the Social Initiative.
The Community and Health Department is seeking to increase awareness of and engagement with the GAA Social Initiative. The aim is to re-engage these members back into their GAA club and community through the growing network of County Health and Wellbeing Committees and Club Health and Wellbeing Officers. We want to have a Social Initiative in every club, for older members who have dedicated years of service to their GAA club and community.
Croke Park recognised as the first Age Friendly Stadium in the World
Croke Park Stadium has been formally recognised as being Age Friendly by the World Health Organisation Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities and Age Friendly Ireland.
This designation comes after the stadium undertook a process of change to ensure that older people can continue to enjoy the facility, regardless of how their needs change across the course of their lives.
This is seen as a significant step in preparing for population ageing. As people are living longer, a very welcome development, there will be increasing numbers of older people in society in years to come.
The stadium has improved its accessibility, such as access routes, accessible seating and signage, and it has also committed to delivering staff training and discounted tickets for older fans.
Older people are also valued members of the stadium’s workplace and volunteer workforce. Actions are also being implemented across the wider GAA community to ensure that older people continue to feel included in the life of the community.
For more information please see Age Friendly Ireland website
CAFE was established with the objective of enabling more disabled fans to attend live sports matches across the UEFA region. CAFE aims to support the improvement of accessible facilities and services at stadiums, raise further awareness around access and inclusion within the game, offer advice to disabled football fans and establish a network of disabled supporter groups.
CAFE uses #TotalAccess as our focus, harnessing the power of sport to act as a catalyst for disability-inclusive change in wider society. For more information on making your stadium more accessible to All please see CAFE website