10:54pm Sunday 31 May 2020

School children skip to be fit

At a recent ‘Skip2bfit’ workshop, funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA), children from Strandtown Primary School in Belfast were introduced to the skipping programme to promote, develop and implement quality skipping and fitness to their daily routine. What used to be everyday childsplay has gone out of fashion lately and this new approach builds on children’s sense of enjoyment.

The ‘Skip2bfit’ workshop, which has already been a huge success in other parts of the UK, was developed in a bid to cut rising child obesity levels and designed to educate children in a fun way about fitness and healthier eating.

‘Skip2bfit’ introduces specifically designed skipping ropes that have counters on the handles, which count the number of skips you do. This method will give children confidence in their skipping ability and boost motivation. Furthermore, counting the number of skips fits in perfectly with trying to increase the amount of physical activity children do in a day.

Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for Northern Ireland, said: “The Public Health Agency is delighted to fund this pilot workshop to educate children about the importance of physical activity and healthier eating from a young age. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased dramatically in Northern Ireland. Provisional data from 2008/09 showed that 22.5% of children entering Year 1 were already overweight or obese, which is a worrying statistic.

Programmes such as ‘Skip2bfit’ can help combat the rising trend in childhood obesity, as well as being really good fun.”
Paul McClenaghan, Principal of Strandtown Primary School Belfast, said: “We are delighted to welcome this exercise initiative to our school. It was particularly welcomed by our 240 Year 5 pupils who took part, as they are studying how to have a healthy lifestyle and are looking for enjoyable ways to take part in physical activities.”

CAPTION: P5 pupils from Strandstown Primary School, with John McCormick, instructor with Skip2bfit and Kim Kensett, Senior Officer for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, Public Health Agency.

Notes to the editor

• In 2006, 18% of children aged 2–15 years were reported to be obese. Provisional data for 2008/09 showed that 22.5% of children entering Year 1 were already overweight (17%) or obese (5%).

• The ‘Skip2bfit’ team will spend one full day in a designated school within each Education and Library Board area. The day will be spent with all children aged 4–11 years.

Further information

Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.

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