With the addition of PE to the Leaving Cert curriculum this week, the issue of childhood obesity has been at the forefront over the last couple of days. And while nearly 10% of children in Ireland can be now classed as "obese", it's a much bigger problem for adults.
With the season of excess well under way, many of us our already looking ahead to our "fresh starts" in 2018, and are promising "this is the year" we're going to shed the belly or finally get fit.
For those of us in cities and large towns, that's all about will power. We need to get out and active, and the only thing holding us back is ourselves. We have gyms and pools on our doorsteps. We have amply lighted streets to go for a safe walk, run, or cycle.
For people living in more rural areas though, things aren't quite as simple. At this time of year, most of us go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. If you don't live near street lighting or have access to indoor facilities, when can you safely go out, be active, and get some exercise?
It's a problem that the GAA are taking on this winter, and along with Operation Transformation, which returns in January, they have launched "Ireland Lights Up" to give people a safe place to get active in the New Year.
Clubs around the country will look to bring communities together each Monday between 22nd January and 26th February. Participating clubs in all 32 counties will open their grounds and put on their floodlights between 7 and 9pm so people can "enjoy healthy walks in the safe, bright, environs of their GAA club".
Clubs who wish to be part of this initiative to register with the GAA before New Year's Eve.
To participate, clubs MUST comply with certain criteria, including:
1. Register your club and at least two walking leaders free-of-charge with GIW at http://www.getirelandwalking.ie/GAA/. This extends additional indemnity cover to the club in addition to the GAA’s public liability cover (be sure to click yes on this box on the registration form).
2. Ensure your club has a current health and safety statement in place and completes a documented hazard inspection of the proposed walking track/route in the club. All floodlighting must be checked prior to the commencement of each walk
3. Ensure your club can provide a safe, floodlit location for the ‘Ireland Lights Up’ walk each Monday between January 22-February 26, 2018. This should only take place on a purpose-built walking track/surface.
4. The club can decide (and promote to its members and communities) what time between 7pm-9pm each Monday the lights will be turned on. (It can be all or some of this period, depending on walk leader availability, floodlight resources etc.)
5. A registration of all participating walkers must be taken each night. This is will provided in the support pack once your club signs up. This is once again designed to protect the club from exposure to insurance risk and to allow us tally final numbers to evaluate the success of ‘Ireland Lights Up’.
For any more information please contact the GAA’s National Health & Wellbeing Coordinator Stacey Cahill at [email protected] or 01 8192387.