The GAA Games Development and Research Department has recently developed the 5 Star Centre initiative for primary schools.
The GAA 5 Star Centre initiative aims to acknowledge the outstanding work of teachers in promoting Gaelic games.
The 5 Star Centre initiative is, effectively, an exercise in empowering teachers to engage children in a manner where they experience the optimum level of fun, friendship, fairness, freedom and, ultimately, fitness functionality.
The initiative is based on the principle that that every child should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week throughout the 26 weeks of the school year.
To become a GAA 5 Star Centre, primary school teachers would organise a range of activities for all children to participate in, with GAA personnel acting in a support capacity. The diverse range activities include Have a Ball, Fun & Run, Camán & Play, Catch & Kick, Skill Challenges and Go Games.
Have a Ball is a series of fun-based exercises that contribute to the development of children's rudimentary and fundamental movement skills. The GAA piloted it in Killinure N.S. and Lisnagry N.S., Limerick earlier this year.
Research conducted by a team from Dublin City University reported that, after a six-week intervention, there was a remarkable increase of 7.3% in children's fundamental movement skill ability.
Another exciting new game called Fun & Run, involving a team of batters/kickers and fielders, is suitable for all age and ability levels. It is particularly suited to meet the needs of people with disabilities, people from socially deprived and ethnic minority groups who often perceive themselves to be excluded from mainstream GAA activities.
GAA President, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, wholeheartedly welcomes this new initiative: "The GAA 5 Star Centre initiative has the potential to make an enormous contribution to the health and wellbeing of Ireland's children.
"This comes at a time when Irish children are engaging in less and less physical activity and levels of obesity and diabetes are on the rise. We want every single boy and girl in Ireland to have had positive introduction to our games by the time they leave primary school.
"The GAA 5 Star Centre initiative is a means of achieving this. Without the contribution of Primary School Teachers, the GAA would not be the wonderful organisation it is today. We want to recognise this significant voluntary effort through our new 5 Star flag, which we hope will be a symbol of how proud we are to promote our games and our culture."
GAA Director of Games Development and Research, Pat Daly, noted that "by 2022, we aim to have generated 39 million hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity across 90% of Ireland's primary schools and 17 million of these hours per school year thereafter.
"The GAA, given its community framework and proven track record in the promotion and development of Child Sport, - as reflected in the enduring success of the Kelloggs Cúl Camps - is happy to Lead the Way with its Massive Volunteer Army (MVA)."
Primary School Teachers/Principals who wish to express interest in becoming a GAA 5 Star Centre can do so at learning.gaa.ie/5star.