School children skip to be fit

Children across Northern Ireland are getting their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day in a new approach to an old past time called ‘Skip2bfit’.

At a recent ‘Skip2bfit’ workshop, funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and supported by the North-Eastern Education and Library Board, children from St Patricks Primary School in Rasharkin 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.”

Mr Noel McCann, Principal of St Patrick’s Primary School Rasharkin, said: “We welcome this new, innovative programme to our school. The children really enjoyed the workshop, which taught them a fun way to get their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity everyday and the importance of healthy eating.”