Melvin Gaels players celebrate after winning the Minor A Championship title. Melvin Gaels are launching a unique fitness challenge on Friday, January 13. Photo by Willie Donnellan
After enjoying a successful year on the field, Melvin Gaels GAA Club is hoping to inspire its local community off the field to record one million minutes of health-enhancing physical activity at the start of this new year.
The initiative is part of the Melvin Gaels’ involvement in the GAA’s Healthy Club project and is intended to increase awareness of the importance to health of regular physical activity while bringing the community together to achieve this goal collectively. The idea has already received the support of numerous local schools, playschools, community fitness classes, and other sports clubs in the locale, all of whom are pledging their support to help reach the ambitious target.
It will be launched by local Olympic marathon hero Breege Connolly in the Kinlough Community Centre on Friday, January 13, at 8pm when all interested parties will be invited to sign up for the challenge.
On the night Breege will be interviewed by Colin Regan, GAA Community & Health manager and Leitrim Observer columnist, as he quizzes her about her Rio Olympic experience and her top tips for those seeking to increase their physical fitness.
Each Friday of the eight-week challenge participants (and potential new recruits) will be invited to gather at the Kinlough Community Centre at 8pm to log their weekly minutes of physical activity and to enjoy an array of health-related workshops and speakers. Confirmed to date are:
January 20: Healthy Eating and Nutrition with Danielle Conaty, HE teacher in St. Clare’s Comprehensive School and all round food guru;
January 27: Breifne Earley, adventurer and author of Pedal the Planet and ambassador for Cycle Against Suicide.
Other topics to be covered include mental fitness and emotional wellbeing, the building blocks of well-being and the importance of mobility and movement for sport, exercise, and life. The club is also hoping to arrange a basic health test for those present at one of the Friday sessions.
Each week participants (individuals and/or groups) can also register their weekly activity minutes via an online form that will be shared on the Melvin Gaels Facebook and Twitter pages and website (www.melvingaels.com) so they can track their individual progress as well as the overall tally of minutes completed.
The Healthy Club project team in Melvin Gaels is made up of Katherine Williams, Ciara Barrett, Mary McSharry, and Mary Rooney. Katherine, who is also the club treasurer, was inspired to come up with the Million Minutes concept when she attended the GAA’s National Health & Wellbeing Conference in Croke Park last October.
“Professor Niall Moyna, who we will all be watching on RTE’s Operation Transformation this January, gave an inspirational keynote address at the conference. He explained that we have the best possible health prescription available to us and its free. If exercise were available in pill form every doctor in the country would be prescribing it, he said.
“I also attended a workshop on physical activity delivered by Kilkenny’s All Star hurler Michael Fennelly. His message was so simple: the best single thing we can do for our health is to move more. So that’s where the idea came from.
“We don’t want this to be considered a Melvin Gaels initiative – we’re just helping to coordinate it. We want the entire community to take ownership of this,” explains Katherine.
Melvin Gaels is Leitrim’s sole representative in phase two of the GAA’s award winning Healthy Clubs project, which involves a total 60 clubs, at least one in each of the 32 counties. It is supported by Healthy Ireland and by Irish Life.
To find out more about the Million Minutes Challenge keep an eye on the Melvin Gaels Facebook page and website.