A healthy sports club initiative in action in Ireland.
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Objective: The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is part of the cultural fabric of Irish society with a club in almost every community nationwide. The aim of this project was to carry out a pilot evaluation of the GAA Healthy Club Project (HCP), which is a unique effort by a national governing body to include health as part of the core business of the organisation at grass roots level. Design: A pre–post intervention group only design was used across 18 clubs recruited to a pilot phase of the project. Setting: GAA grassroots sports clubs across Ireland. Methods: Twelve Healthy Club Officers completed a self-evaluation survey of their club at two time points to indicate the health promotion orientation of their club and the extent of health promotion activity in the club. Results: Data showed improvements in the health promotion orientation of clubs, from moderate to high health promoting overall and particular increases in policy and practice scores. This is likely due to the widespread appointment of Healthy Club Officers and the delivery of health-related initiatives in clubs. Conclusion: The impact of the project, while not demonstrable as an intervention effect at this stage, was real for the clubs involved. The GAA HCP is a novel way of carrying out health promotion in Ireland, serving as a meeting point between the ‘push of health’ and ‘pull of the sports club’.
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