Official Aras Mumhan Website

14th March 2024

Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs programme welcomed 46 GAA clubs from Munster on Saturday, 9th March, for the National Orientation Day in Croke Park. The event hosted a total of 207 clubs from 32 counties, represented by almost 400 volunteer Healthy Club Officers. This brings to over 600 the total number of clubs engaged by the Healthy Club Programme since its inception in 2013, when it began as a pilot involving just 16 clubs.

An independent evaluation conducted by Just Economics and launched in December found that the Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs Programme is delivering health and wellbeing benefits worth €50m to Irish society. The programme empowers GAA clubs to become hubs for health, addressing a wide array of areas including physical activity, mental fitness, community development, diversity and inclusion, substance use, and healthy eating. By engaging club members and the wider community, participating clubs are supporting a range of local and national health and wellbeing needs. The clubs have 18 months to complete the necessary steps involved in becoming an accredited Irish Life GAA Healthy Club. The programme is supported by Irish Life (proud partners since 2015), as well as Healthy Ireland, the HSE, National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), and the Tomar Trust philanthropic organisation.

The research also highlighted a range of benefits for GAA clubs participating in the programme, including greater involvement by their community in club activities, recruiting new members and volunteers, and improved reputation/goodwill.

Participating clubs also reported:

  • beneficial changes in policies and procedures such as smoke and vape free venue.
  • becoming more welcoming, representative of the community, and well-utilised.
  • some improvement in the ease at which volunteers are recruited/retained (although both remain a challenge).

Notably, the volunteers who deliver the Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs Programme and its initiatives reported as significant health benefits as the participants, reinforcing the evidence that volunteering and giving back is good for one’s health.

Uachtarán CLG Jarlath Burns said: “From the humble beginnings of 16 pilot clubs the Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs Programme has grown to be one of the great success stories in the GAA. The GAA is about Games but, ultimately, it is about People and the communities where our clubs operate. The  Healthy Clubs Programme ensures that whatever a club might or might not do on the field in a given season, off the field as a community and as a support structure of people they will excel by embracing the multitude of offerings in the Programme and the benefits that follow for members.

“I welcome the newest recruited clubs to the HCP and hope you feel the full positive effect from your involvement and want to thank all of those who assist in its delivery and our partners in Irish Life for their long-standing support.”

Declan Bolger, CEO of Irish Life commented:

“Irish Life is extremely proud of our partnership with the GAA and the Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs programme.  Congratulations to the 207 new clubs starting the programme.

You will be joining a great network of clubs that have been successfully creating awareness, support and opportunities for communities across Ireland to improve their health and wellbeing.

We know from the social return on investment evaluation that Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs are having a positive and measurable impact on the health of the nation. This is further evidenced by the success of the recent steps challenge on MyLife with over 40,000 participants from 970 GAA Clubs nationwide taking part, increasing their physical activity and sense of connection to their community.

Well done to the Healthy Clubs officers and volunteers for promoting the challenge locally and achieving so much on behalf of their clubs and communities.”

Matthew Doyle, Head of Health and Wellbeing Programme, Department of Health said:

“The Irish Life GAA Healthy Club Programme is unique to Ireland, and with the GAA at the heart of every community, it is ideally placed to transform clubs into hubs for health and wellbeing.  We are very proud to support the Healthy Clubs Programme and wish the 207 new clubs well as they embark on their journey to becoming an accredited Irish Life GAA Healthy Club.  The health and wellbeing benefits provided by this programme are felt both at club and local level and shows what is possible working on an all-island basis with our partners, including the GAA, the HSE, our health colleagues in Northern Ireland, and Irish Life.”

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