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Change your health with Celtic Football Club

Thursday, 24 September 2009

The inspiration for the initiative is the football club's "wellman programme", which has been using the appeal of soccer to help encourage men to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.
The scope of the 10-week programme, (the group are now in week 3) is wider than just fitness. It also focuses on positive mental health, drug awareness, cookery skills and how to access local health services.


A total of 30 men between that ages of 30 and 65, are taking part. The programme is organised by the Larkin Centre, near Ballybough, and supported by the Health Service Executive, Pfizer Healthcare.


Research has consistently shown that men do not pay enough attention to their health and are less likely to seek help when problems arise.


These issues are even more acute in the inner city, where unemployment rates, alcohol problems and drug abuse are higher than among the general population.


The Larkin Centre went about trying to "gently encourage" men to sign up for the programme through its outreach programme. One incentive for men who successfully complete the programme will be tickets to see Celtic play in a few months' time.


The 10-week programme will typically involve two meetings a week. The programme will include health screening as well as training on fitness, healthy eating and cooking, positive mental health, sexual health awareness and dental hygiene. The organisers hope those who take part in the programme will be empowered to take more positive choices in their day-to-day lives.


Most of the men taking part were welfare-dependent and may have felt there was little they could do to change their ways. But, a key aim will be to empower men to make positive choices.
Neil Lennon in Lurhan, Armagh is a former professional footballer from Northern Ireland. He is the former captain of Celtic where he was first-team coach having moved from Wycombe Wanderers on 3 April 2008. Following the appointment of Tony Mowbray as Celtic manager, Lennon's role at the club was changed. From the start of season 2009-10 he will coach the Celtic reserve side

Released by Manchester City as a 19-year-old after making just one league appearance, Neil Lennon blossomed under the guidance of Dario Gradi in the excellent Crewe Alexandra set-up.
He spent six years with Crewe Alexandra helping them to two promotions along the way, although nearly retired from the game after suffering a serious back injury. However, he recovered enough to carry on playing, and in 1996 joined Martin O'Neill at Leicester City in a £750,000 deal. He became one of the unsung stars of the Premiership and the flame-haired Ulsterman repeatedly proved he could cope with the jump from the second division to the top flight.


Lennon made his international debut for Northern Ireland in 1994 and went on to captain his country, winning 39 caps and scoring two goals. Lennon hung up his international boots in April 2002, amid threats to his personal safety and on police advice. He had been the target of abuse because of his Catholic background.
Lennon went on to become the chief playmaker in the Foxes midfield with some highly consistent performances. He won the first medals of his career after helping Leicester to lift the League Cup in 1997 and 2000.


He rejoined Martin O'Neill at Celtic in 2000 and has been a key figure in the Hoops' various silverware acquisitions since. He was made captain and was a central figure in their journey to the 2003 UEFA Cup final, where Celtic were eventually beaten 3-2 by Porto.

Anne Flannery, She is the Community Education Coordinator with the Larkin Centre in Dublin, who helped set up the programme.
Mick Weafer He is 43 years of age, and is one of the participants on the course. Mick is a taxi driver who lives in Dublin. He was a member of the committee that helped set up the 10 week course, called 'The Larkin Men's Health and Well-being programme'.
Anne Flannery, Community Education coordinator with the Larkin Centre

How did the programme start?
We wanted to do something that would appeal to men as it's often a big problem trying to attract me to these programmes, and sport appeals to men, you might say..Celtic are huge in Scotland, so they decided to use the men's passion for football to encourage them to make health life style changes..

As part of the programme, the group got a health screening in week one.. What about the results of the health screening that was carried out after the first week?
After the screening, one third of the participants were referred to their doctor, some were told to see their doctor without delay.. a lot was to do with cholesterol and blood pressure which could have been quite serious if not addressed.


What does the programme consist of?
Every Wednesday, the Celtic coaches come over and coach the group fitness skills and routines for two hours, they also give motivational talks to the group as well..


On a Monday, the group has a cookery class, and they have a HSE specialist person also on a Wednesday giving lectures on issues such as cholesterol, blood pressure etc the programme aims to instigate a positive lifestyle change in males living in Dublin's north inner city.


Q. Different groups of people give lectures on a range of areas, including mental health and promoting positive mental health, looking at life events and rick factors that affect mental health
How do participants act after the screening?


A.Since week one, the group are now talking about health in a way that they would not have done before, a lot of the individuals have even met up a group on a Friday and go swimming in the local centre in Sean Mc Dermott Street. A lot of people in the community are aware of the programme and are helping out in another way. Some of the men have lost over half a stone in one week alone, and they are doing things like walking a lot more.


Q. What kind of effect/benefit did this programme have in Scotland and the UK?
A. When they finish the course the can feel a great sense of achievement. They can even become very emotional and I have also met people that were involved in courses that had various health issues and it can benefit them greatly.

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