GAA Healthy Club Project
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An Over View of Operation Transformation and a move to

GAA Healthy Clubs Initiative.

Eastern Harps Football Club earlier this year embarked on a fund raising activity with a healthy twist called Operation Transformation. This initiative was the suggestion of a parent in the club and was loosely based on the television programme of the same name. While this was without doubt a fundraiser for the clubs development fund, the organising committee also had a secondary agenda very much in the forefront of their minds when they sat down to their first planning meeting.  The aspiration was to open the club up to the wider community in a way that has possibly never been attempted before.  

So with "health & social initiative" ringing in their ears, the committee went about recruiting 10 team leaders from different locations within the Eastern Harps area.  Each of these leaders would hopefully enlist 9 others, bringing our grand total to 100 participants committing to a seven week regime of becoming healthier and fitter.  It was quietly suspected that this may be a touch ambitious, but the enthusiasm of the community has surpassed expectations with 120 people taking part. The initiative was launched by the Chairman of the Club in early January assisted by the Operation Transformation Committee with great encouragement for the participants. 

Operation Transformation was a tripartite venture with Sligo Sports and Recreation Partnership seeing the health and fitness benefits of the initiative provided funding towards instructors and sponsorship for weekly winners was provided by Tanseys Centra, Gurteen and Lavins of Ballymote.  

Each week the participants went about their programme of health and fitness with great enthusiasm and a total of 1,200 pounds was lost collectively. To achieve this there were boot camps, circuit training, ceili dancing, scenic family walks and personal diet. All of this led to great competitiveness, camaraderie and socialisation with people supporting each other and swapping dietary tips and recipes. Above all the level of fitness, health and well being and sense of fun achieved for all involved was immeasurable. 

On the back of this initiative the club entered an expression of interest in the GAA Healthy Club Project in Croke Park and was one of sixteen clubs to be selected to participate in the project. The project was jointly launched by Uachtarán CLG, Liam Ó Néill, and Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, Dr. Tony Holohan, on the 11th March reflecting its collaborative nature between the GAA and the HSE. At its core, the project aims to assist GAA clubs in responding to the wide and varied health needs of their members, while extending that positive influence out to the wider communities they serve."The GAA Healthy Club Project aims to highlight and re-enforce the great work already being done by clubs while assisting them in identifying and responding to the most important health issues amongst their membership and in their communities," Liam O'Neill said at the launch. The project is being directed at national level by a Croke Park Project Team and Steering Committee featuring representatives from the GAA, HSE, National Office of Suicide Prevention, the third level education sector (DCU and Carlow IT) and the Irish Sports Council. Four Operational Groups will assist in its roll-out at provincial level, tapping into support and expertise at GAA Provincial Council level, Local Sports Partnerships, and regional Health Promotion units, plus their northern counterparts. There are four clubs in each of the four provinces. The clubs picked in Connacht are Liam Mellows Hurling Club, Galway, Ballinamore Sean O' Heslin CLG Leitrim, Eastern Harps CLG Sligo, Oran CLG Roscommon. 

Four members of the Eastern Harps Club attended the launch and came back with enthusiasm to roll out the project within the club and club area. This gives the club a great opportunity to build on the success of Operation Transformation and work with players, members, families, and the wider community to continue to increase their health and well being. A Healthy Club Project Committee has been set up within the club to work on this and over the coming weeks an anonymous survey will be available on the Eastern Harps Web Site. The survey is designed to assist the club in establishing how people feel about the club and what key themes to work on as part of the project. The survey will also be available in hard copy for those without access to internet. Overall the Chairman and Club Committee welcome this project and feel it has great potential to further build on the aspiration of the Operation Transformation Committee to open the club up to the wider community.  The launch of the Healthy Club Project will take place in Keash Hall on Sunday 5th May at 7pm prior to the Club Draw.

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