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Fit For Sport's aim to beat child obesity tones up 4,500 Tower Hamlets pupils

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 May 2015 | UPDATED: 10:08 29 May 2015

Hoola-hooping fun at Stewart Hedlam school in Fit For Sports pilot activity programme

Hoola-hooping fun at Stewart Hedlam school in Fit For Sports pilot activity programme

Fit For Sport

Months of activity challenges has led to a competition week for thousands of children in London's deprived East End aimed at getting them fitter and kicking endemic child obesity into touch.

Jumping is a joy in Fit For Sport's contestJumping is a joy in Fit For Sport's contest

Pupils in 24 Tower Hamlets primary schools have been taking part in Fit For Sport’s pilot Engage To Compete activity programme since January.

Around 4,500 children have so far taken part, with 278 staff trained to supervise, to raise levels of physical activity among young children.

Tower Hamlets has one of the country’s highest rates of child obesity—but these youngsters at Bethnal Green’s Stewat Hedlam Primary have been bucking the trend with months of fitness challenges for the competion week before half-term, when they were timed to improve their “physical literacy” on tasks like throwing and catching, running and jumping.

“We are acutely aware of the threat of obesity among children,” the school’s PE coordinator Bob Curtis said.

Three cheers for Tower Hamlets schools in Fit For Sport's activity challengeThree cheers for Tower Hamlets schools in Fit For Sport's activity challenge

“Physical activity is a key part of the curriculum, with the programme having given us all the tools we need to keep up this higher level of activity.”

The school’s playground time has changed with staff now taking part in the activities, not just supervising.

“We have far more activities—hula hooping, skipping, football, basketball, bean bag throwing and playing tag,” Mr Curtis explained.

“Training up our teaching assistants has been a success. The children love seeing teachers joining in ball games and turning the skipping rope while counting up the children’s score.”

The Fit For Sport organisation has been running the pilot programme in East London and the Midlands with £200,000 National Lottery funding.

The Tower Hamlets schools competed against 22 schools at Sandwell, in Birmingham, who have also been following the programme in which teachers, PE co-ordinators, lunchtime supervisors and support staff are trained to hold playground activities to keep children active at school.

The project will be rolled across the UK if successful. But the ‘pilot’ has already sparked other initiatives including sports days, redesigned playgrounds and after-school activity clubs—so it seems to be a winner even before it kicks off nationally.

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