Children’s health in Cheshire is to benefit from Warrington Wolves’ award-winning community enterprise thanks to a grant from national charity, Heart Research UK, to promote healthy heart initiatives.
The Wolves Foundation has been awarded £8,500 for a project that aims to get primary school children, aged 8-10, more active to help them live healthier, happier and longer lives.
The project, ‘Happy Hearts’, aims to reduce the high rate of obesity amongst children and young people as well as the short and long term health risks associated with obese and inactive children.
An estimated 640 children from 20 Cheshire schools will be reached by the project – which will provide six weekly sessions to each participating class starting in September.
Sessions will cover a range of topics, both practical and educational, including the importance of healthy eating, exercise and emotional-wellbeing, the dangers of smoking and how to read food labels.
James Howes, Sport and Lifestyles Manager at the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation, said: “The Warrington Wolves Foundation is passionate about engaging, enthusing and inspiring youngsters to initiate and sustain positive lifestyle choices from an early age.
“The grant received from Heart Research UK will enable primary school children in Warrington to learn about the benefits of keeping their hearts healthy using innovative and creative sessions in the school environment. The Warrington Wolves is in a unique position to demonstrate the importance of a healthy lifestyle using professional Rugby League players as role models to influence the behaviours of children and their families.’
The Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation, the charity arm of the Warrington Wolves Rugby League Club, hopes that activities within the project will be sustained beyond the school setting and will initiate sustainable lifestyle and behavioural changes.
The effectiveness of the activities will be measured through questionnaires given to pupils at the beginning and end of the project and will determine changes in behaviour that will improve heart health.
Weekly diaries documenting physical activity and food choices will also be completed by the children which will help to determine the outcome of the project and individual success stories.
In the UK, at the start of primary school, 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese and by the time they leave aged 11 years old, this rises to 1 in 3. The issue has been described as one of the most serious Public Health challenges for the 21st Century and Warrington Borough Council praised the efforts of the Wolves Foundation
Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, executive board member for public health and wellbeing, said: “It’s vitally important that our children get the best start in life. Teaching them about the importance of healthy eating and being active is essential in reducing the long term health risks associated with obesity and inactivity.
This programme will be a great way of engaging children and their families and will help to support them in making good lifestyle choices for the future.”