One of the highlights of my work last year was hearing the address Conor Cusack delivered at the inaugural national GAA Health & Wellbeing Conference in Croke Park.
This Sporting Life - Colin Regan
Conor made an indelible impression on me over the previous six months, firstly with his frank and revealing blog about his journey through depression but predominantly with his startling address to the nation on the Miriam O’Callaghan Show.
It was the most heartfelt and impassioned call to arms I had ever heard. Conor didn’t just reveal his soul in telling the country about his own experiences; he demanded understanding of and attention for a topic that for generations was brushed under the carpet or simply left us confused and ignorant. I knew he was the individual to open the first conference the GAA had dedicated to the topic of health and wellbeing.
Over the past year Conor has continued this work but has moved his professional career into the space, taking up a full time welfare role with the GPA. He has also appreciated the need to broaden his conversation from a pure focus on ‘depression’ and all the labels that still brings with it, to a more holistic understanding of health and wellbeing and all the integral elements that constitutes this most personal state of being.
This year Conor will return to give the keynote address at the second national Health & Wellbeing Conference in Croke Park on Saturday (March 21). He will join a host of the country’s leading GAA personalities and health experts for what promises to be an event to remember.
The free conference, themed ‘Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Clubs’, is designed to support, educate, and invigorate the GAA volunteers who are driving this important work within the Association. Especially welcome are members of the new County Health & Wellbeing Committees, any new Club Health and Wellbeing Officers or those considering taking up this role in clubs across the country.
However, the conference’s mix of practical tutorials, presentations, interactive elements and discussion will prove worthwhile to any member interested in learning more about the field of health and wellbeing and I would like to personally invite all Leitrim Gaels to come along.
RTE’s Marty Morrissey will MC an afternoon panel discussion featuring individuals who have championed positive health and wellbeing through their personal and sporting lives.
It will include Tony Griffin, Clare All Ireland winner and founder of the youth development Soar Foundation, Valerie Mulcahy, nine time All Ireland winner with Cork, Eamon O’Shea, Tipperary manager and Professor in the School of Economics, NUIG, Críonna Tobin, a leading performance nutritionist, and Jason Hughes, former Monaghan footballer and one of the leader of Castleblayney’s Faughs award winning ‘Operation TransFAUGHmation’.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Eddie Murphy, as seen on RTE’s Operation Transformation, will conduct a live Q&A with delegates designed to reassure them on matters of concern that may arise in their clubs.
Other contributors include Dr Brendan Doody, Fiona Teague, and Susan Kenny, all members of the GAA’s National Health & Wellbeing Committee, who will explore topics such as redefining health and wellbeing through the GAA, responding to critical incidents, and the importance of working through appropriate partnerships.
The day will also showcase some of the incredible work being carried out by the clubs involved in Phase 1 of the innovative GAA Healthy Club Project which was recently boosted by a three-year Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investment by Irish Life.
Places are free but limited and they are filling up fast. If you want to learn more about how to look after your health and wellbeing, or to appreciate how your club can provide a health-enhancing experience for all its members go to http://www.gaa.ie/community/health-and-wellbeing/2015-national-health-wellbeing-conference/ to reserve your ticket or call 01-9182393 for more details.