As the countdown to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games continues, children in primary schools across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to get active and stay healthy with the latest joint initiative between Sport Northern Ireland and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The Activ8 Eatwell programme promotes active and healthy lifestyles for children by teaching them about physical activity and healthy eating. It builds on the original Activ8 campaign and continues to enjoy the support of the London 2012 Games through the Inspire mark – the badge of Inspire Programme which recognises exceptional and innovative projects and events which are directly inspired by the 2012 Games.
On hand to lend his support and officially launch the programme was Olympic medal winner Jonathan Edwards, along with children from Blythfield Primary School in Belfast who eagerly demonstrated their energy and enthusiasm for the programme.
Dr Anne Heaslett, Principal Stranmillis University College, welcomed everyone to the launch. She commented, “It is a particular honour to welcome Jonathan Edwards, the Olympic Gold Medallist to the Stranmillis campus. The College is committed to working with its partners to support the Activ8 Eatwell campaign.”
The Activ8 Eatwell programme encourages children to get active and stay healthy, aims to raise awareness about the importance of doing a minimum of one hour of physical activity each day and ensures that children will also learn how to make healthy choices about the food they eat. These messages combined are a powerful means of combating obesity and other health issues with our children. The programme is being rolled out to all primary school age children in Northern Ireland and uptake is expected to be high.
Speaking at the launch, Chief Executive of Sport Northern Ireland Eamonn McCartan welcomed Jonathan Edwards to Belfast to help launch the campaign, saying: “We are delighted to once again have the support of Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Edwards to launch this programme. 10,000 children within 200 primary schools took part in the original Activ8 Challenge, and by extending the age range for Activ8 Eatwell we have the potential reach around 100,000 children. This is a tremendous vehicle to highlight the very important messages of getting active and healthy eating to our young people, as the two go very much hand in hand.”
Reinforcing this sentiment, Gerry McCurdy Director of the FSA in Northern Ireland commented: “The Food Standards Agency led on the development of a pilot programme, with Sport Northern Ireland, which delivered Activ8 Eatwell to 50 primary schools in NI last year. Extensive evaluation is being carried out and preliminary results are very positive with teachers, coaches and pupils benefiting from the programme and finding it very enjoyable. The evaluation has also shown some evidence in initial changes in eating and drinking behaviour and we would very much aim to expand on this during the roll out of the programme across Northern Ireland.”
Jonathan Edwards has been a leading advocate and supporter of Activ8 since its inception. The Olympic Gold Medallist and London 2012 Nations and Regions Group Deputy Chair complimented the programme saying: “Generating a legacy of participation from the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is of crucial importance to our young people, and from its inception the Activ8 initiative has encapsulated everything that London 2012 is about. I am thrilled at having the opportunity to celebrate its continued development into the Activ8 Eatwell programme. The programme is making a positive contribution to children’s health and physical well-being whilst increasing participation in sport and I’d really encourage schools to take part in the challenge.”
Those schools who register for the programme will have the opportunity to complete the Activ8 Eatwell challenge diary, enter the Olympic themed art competition to win fabulous prizes, and receive a free sports day pack.
Eamonn McCartan closed by reinforcing his support for the programme: “Driving increased participation in sport, especially with young people is a key objective for Sport Northern Ireland. The long term benefits are very exciting will ensure that we create a legacy of participation in sport from childhood right through to adulthood.”
To register your school today, visit www.sportni.net/activ8