Ferghal and Avril Keegan meet their hero Breege Connolly.
GAA club Melvin Gaels Million Minutes community health challenge is off to a flying start with over 100,000 minutes of physical activity recorded in the first week.
There has been an incredible response to the challenge and it's clear the local community in the Kinlough, Tullaghan area of north Leitrim has really bought into the idea.
The challenge was officially launched on Friday, January 13th by local Olympic hero Breege Connolly, in the Kinlough Community Centre.
The marathon runner, speaking to former Leitrim GAA star Colin Regan, enthralled the large crowd with her recollections of her Rio experience as her proud mum looked on.
Breege also offered plenty of practical tips to the audience – which contained a great mix of young and old people from across the parish – about how to better maintain their health through regular physical activity.
Asked what is the hardest thing about running, Breege simply replied: “Getting changed and putting on your runners. So often I don’t feel like going out and the effort seems like too much bother, but I never regret if afterwards. I always feel the better for it.”
She encouraged anyone taking up walking, running, or exercise to find a partner-in-crime or to join a local group to get that little bit of support. She also highlighted that just 15 minutes of exercise has health-enhancing qualities. “You don’t have to run a marathon to feel the benefits of exercise,” she stressed. “Try to do a little bit every day.”
However, she also reassured the young people in the audience that if they want to be an Olympian there is no reason why they can’t achieve that goal. “It takes commitment but it’s achievable. Just look at me,” she laughed.
First Steps PreSchool pupils getting their activity in this week.
GAA Healthy Clubs project
The Million Minutes Challenge is part of the Melvin Gaels participation in the GAA’s Healthy Clubs project. Each Friday evening at 8pm the community comes together to record their collective minutes of exercise and are treated to a talk on a health related topic.
Last Friday, Danielle Conaty, HE teacher in St. Clare’s Comprehensive School, Manorhamilton, gave a fascinating talk on healthy eating while all in attendance also received a copy of the GAA’s Recipes for Success healthy eating booklet and a goodie bag filled of healthy treats.
This Friday at 8pm Leitrim adventurer and author Breifne Earley will host a talk on his round-the-world solo cycle and recent walk from Cork to Leitrim, following the Beara-Breifne Way. Each Saturday at 7pm the community is also getting together for a walk/run around the floodlit walking track on the training field next to the Community Centre. All welcome.
If you can’t make the Friday evening gathering you can still record your weekly minutes by logging onto the Melvin Gaels website and clinking on the link to the log book in this article:
You can also find the link on the Melvin Gaels Facebook page.
Mix of people
A quick scan of last week’s log shows a great mix of people and groups getting involved. The Sunflower Montessori recorded an incredible 6,130 minutes through, amongst other activities, yoga and jumping jacks, Playschool Highscope logged 2,200 minutes of pay and exercise, while First Steps PreSchool enjoyed balancing and buntas activities on top of their usual outdoor play to log a collective 7,625 minutes of physical activity.
The Benwiskin Centre showed it’s not just the children flying the flag with their walking, Tai Chi and yoga groups recording an impressive 4,470 minutes, while Tullaghan Boxing group logged a phenomenal 6,360.
Ireland’s fittest families could also get a run for their money with the Gallagher (Seamus, Jamie, and Maria), Regan (Catherine, Kevin and children) and Tiffoney (Bridie, Terry and co.) families noting walking, rugby, football, the GYM, fun, and farming as amongst their weekly physical activities.
So why not get involved in this exciting fun health challenge and log your minutes too. Get inspired by Breifne Earley this Friday in the Community Centre at 8pm. All welcome.