Irish Heart Foundation & Federation of Irish Sport Call for More Post-Primary Schools to Provide Recommended Two Hours’ PE Each Week, As Pumped Schools’ Video Awards Launched
*Department of Education and Skills Recommends that Students Receive a Minimum of 120 minutes’ PE Each Week
*One in Five Teenagers Overweight or Obese
Leading heart disease and stroke charity, the Irish Heart Foundation, and the representative association for National Governing Bodies of Sport, the Federation of Irish Sport, have today called on post-primary schools to redouble their efforts in implementing the Department of Education and Skills’ recommendation that two hours’ physical education be provided to post-primary school students each week1.
The call was made at the launch of the Pumped Schools’ Video Awards, supported by Bayer in partnership with the Irish Heart Foundation, the Federation of Irish Sport and RTÉ news2day, which seeks to encourage young people to unleash their creative juices and produce 90-second movies on a heart health theme. The competition invites participants to explore the science behind physical activity, diet and smoking, the impact of these on health and well-being, and produce compelling videos that inspire viewers to act. With a prize fund of €10,000, there are three categories in which to enter – “Smoking Stinks”, “Active Teens—Healthy Hearts” and “Weighty Matters”. The awards are open to all post-primary students between the ages of 12 and 16 years with the winner of each category winning €3,000 for their school’s sports department and each individual student receiving a €100 voucher. More information can be found at http://www.pumped.ie/
It is estimated that one in five teenagers is overweight or obese2 with Ireland’s rates amongst the worst in Europe3. Our young people also top an international league in terms of levels of inactivity, a major risk for overweight, obesity, cardiovascular and other diseases. The league, part of an analysis of 15 countries worldwide presented at a Global Summit on Physical Activity of Children in Toronto earlier this year, accorded Ireland a Grade D minus for physical activity amongst children, behind countries such as Mozambique, New Zealand, Mexico, Kenya and Nigeria4. Only 12 per cent of post-primary students meet the Department of Health’s guideline of 60 minutes’ moderate to vigorous physical activity each day—girls less so than boys—and just 10 per cent of post-primary students are timetabled with the recommended minimum 120 minutes of physical education each week5.
Speaking in advance of the awards launch, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, said: “In Ireland our health really is our wealth. The government’s Healthy Ireland initiative is aimed at improving the health and well-being of all the people of Ireland and for generations to come. Through our plan, we’re asking everyone to play their part. Educating young people and encouraging participation in physical activity are essential to improving the health of our future generations. I hope that the Pumped Schools’ Video Awards will prove to be a fun and engaging way for students to find out and share the information they need about heart health as well as picking up tips on having a healthy lifestyle that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. This is your chance—our chance—to get together and get involved in making our life everything it can be in body, mind and spirit.”
Iwer Baecker, Managing Director, Bayer Ireland Ltd, noted: “As a life science company, Bayer understands the crucial importance of raising the level of awareness of health issues within our society and especially amongst our young people. Bayer is very proud to be part of the Pumped campaign which is now in its third year. The competition helps engage young people and to get them thinking about the importance of diet and physical activity in living a healthy life. The quality of the entries from the previous two years really shows our students’ growing understanding of how behaviour impacts health and the entries highlight a high level of innovation and imagination.”
Maureen Mulvihill, Head of Health Promotion, Irish Heart Foundation, commented: “PE is an intrinsic element in encouraging young people to be physically active. Given the high levels of inactivity in teenagers, increasing levels of overweight and obesity and early signs of heart disease, it is vital that the recommended level of PE is compulsory for all pupils, as is the case across Europe for primary and Junior cycle education6. Projects like Pumped are part of the mix to help educate our young people on how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent disease. Cardiovascular disease, mainly heart attack and stroke, is the leading cause of death in Ireland with about 10,000 people dying each year7.”
Sarah O’Connor is Chief Executive of the Federation of Irish Sport and a member of the Healthy Ireland Council that seeks to mobilise communities, families and individuals with the aim of supporting everyone to enjoy the best possible health and well-being. “It is hard to understand against a backdrop of growing levels of obesity and physical inactivity, and the vision of Healthy Ireland—where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and well-being to their full potential—that according to available research that only 10 per cent of post-primary students are receiving the recommendation of 120 minutes of PE every week. We also know that girls are less likely than boys to meet the physical activity recommendations for health of at least 60 minutes each day, that they receive fewer minutes of formal PE in school and that they are more likely than boys to be timetabled for single as opposed to double class periods. Schools along with parents have a key role to play in ensuring that young people meet the physical activity levels needed for health. It is vital that we take this issue seriously and we join with our partners in the Irish Heart Foundation in urging that all schools deliver on this and that all students participate.”
Change of Heart
Fiona Coghlan, Captain of the Ireland team at the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014, PE teacher and member of the judging panel, knows about speaking to young people in a language that they understand. “Although parents and teachers are often the best people to advise young people on what to do with their lives, the people they most listen to are their friends. That’s why the Pumped Schools’ Video Awards are a great way to get young people thinking about what they put into their mouths and how they look after their bodies. With these awards, hopefully we can get young people to think twice about how they live their lives and look after themselves. In fact, I believe that these awards should be included as part of the Junior Cert curriculum for all students in exploring their heart health.”
Olympic medalist, boxer Paddy Barnes, is also lending his support to the Pumped Schools’ Video Awards initiative. “As a boxer, I know what it is to get pumped before a big fight. But these awards provide an opportunity to focus on getting an altogether different kind of pumped. Pumped about what we are eating and what we are drinking, whether we smoke and whether we exercise and what it means for our body fitness. Unless we make the right life choices, the stark reality is that we are just storing up lots of health problems for ourselves down the tracks. Why make life harder than it needs to be? We need to have a change of heart when it comes to looking after our heart health. And that change needs to start right now.”
Orla Walsh, presenter RTÉ news2day, added: “From cricket to kickboxing, dancing to badminton, we’ve covered it all on news2day! Myself and fellow presenter Nick meet loads of young people every day who are involved in all sorts of sports and other physical activities. The one thing that always leaps out at us is the fun that they have. Whether it’s taking part in rugby, being on the hockey team, playing basketball, GAA, or doing hip hop dancing, anything that gets the body moving is a good thing. Experts tell us how beneficial taking part in sport is for our physical health, yet we also see the great fun, the team spirit, the friendships that form when people get together to do something active. Even tennis and boxing need at least two people! So, whatever way you want to do it, get moving, get pumped!”
For more information on the Pumped Schools’ Video Awards, visit http://www.pumped.ie/. The closing date for entries is January 16 2015.