Two Tyrone GAA clubs have received national recognition for their work in promoting health and wellbeing among their communities.
Omagh St Enda’s and Greencastle St Patrick’s are among the first in the country to achieve Healthy Clubs status.
At a special ceremony in Croke Park, both clubs were commending by leading GAA ambassador Sean Cavanagh for their leadership.
The award winning Healthy Clubs Project (HCP) aims to turn clubs into hubs for health in their communities.
With almost the same number of GAA clubs as GPs across Ireland, the project offers a new setting in which to deliver health promotion and interventions.
Greencastle and Omagh can now proudly fly a flag above their grounds (endorsed by both Healthy Ireland and the Public Health Agency in NI), letting their members and communities know that they value health and wellbeing as much as leagues and championships.
They were among 58 GAA clubs recognised as the first official ‘Healthy Clubs’ on the island of Ireland.
These two progressive GAA clubs are the first in Tyrone to receive national recognition. Their various health and wellbeing initiatives have had a tremendous impact on their clubs and wider communities.
Among some of the work carried out, Greencastle have set up a blood donation clinic in the club and over the last year over 200 donations have taken place.
Omagh St Enda’s GAA Club organised free health screening for members of the club and wider community in partnership with local nurses, pharmacists and local charity, Cancer Focus. Over 50 people availed of the service and surprisingly over half of these were men.
Former Tyrone football captain Seán Cavanagh is a big supporter of the GAA’s Healthy Club Project (HCP) and presented the clubs with their official flag and plaque in Croke Park on Saturday, November 4th.
He said “I’ve seen myself how the GAA brings communities together in so many different ways across Tyrone and Ireland. It is fantastic to see Greencastle St Patrick’s and Omagh St Endas taking a leadership role in developing healthier communities and having such a positive impact on so many children and young people.
“Through this project I think people will start to appreciate the role of the GAA in our communities even more and I encourage all clubs in Tyrone and Ireland to get involved”.
In January 2016, almost 100 clubs applied to participate in Phase 2 of the project (just 16 participated in Phase 1 between 2013-2015). Many cited the dearth of services in their communities that are tackling issues such as obesity, sedentary lifestyles, mental health and suicide. They wanted to be part of the solution.
The innovative Healthy Club model was developed in partnership with Healthy Ireland, the HSE’s health promotion division, the National Office for Suicide Prevention, and is supported by Irish Life through a CSR investment. In an era of unprecedented societal health challenges, the Healthy Club Project aims to harness the potential of the GAA club setting to deliver evidence-based health promotion information and interventions, backed up by appropriate policies and practice.
Aogán Ó Fearghail, An Uachtarán Cumann Luthchleas Gael said, “The 58 Healthy Clubs recognised today have gone above and beyond what is normally expected of a sports club. Health and wellbeing is core to what the GAA is all about and these clubs help bring that to life. I’d like to thank our partners, Healthy Ireland, the HSE, National Office for Suicide Prevention, the Public Health Agency, and Irish Life, for helping to make the Healthy Club project the success it is. We look forward to growing it from strength to strength.”
Recognising the achievements of the clubs in Croke Park at the Healthy Club Recognition Event is Catherine Byrne, Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Department of Health (ROI). She said, "Today is all about recognition for the clubs and the volunteers who make this happen at club level. I would like to congratulate all of the clubs and volunteers involved and acknowledge the contribution that they are all making to bring the vision for Healthy Ireland to life: where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential"
The GAA hope to extend the project to 150 clubs in Phase 3 (with expressions of interest to open in early 2018) before opening the project to all interested clubs in 2020.
Clubs in Tyrone will be supported on their journey by the Tyrone County Health and wellbeing committee and are asked to email email@example.com for more information on becoming a healthy club.