A NEW project will be held this autumn to educate school children about the importance of being physically active.

York City Football Club Foundation’s new schools project ‘Active Every Day’ is its sixth annual outreach programme offering education and activity, with the continued support of project sponsors, Benenden Health.

The project will see coaches from the Foundation visit up to 20 schools in York and across North Yorkshire.

Paula Stainton, foundation manager, said: “Sessions will be part classroom and part activity based. They will look at educating children on why it’s important to be active, what different types of activity there are, from vigorous to moderate activity.

“Then the children will also do some physical activity and try different levels of activity. They will learn what is vigorous and what is moderate.”

Ms Stainton said the project is about providing a positive experience of sport and physical activity.

She commented: “An early start to an active life is a must as gender gaps and health inequalities start appearing from the age of just five. Our programme is built around the principles of encouraging more activity every day by ensuring activities are fun, engaging, inclusive and enjoyable for everyone, and helping the young people understand how they can encompass them into their everyday lives.”

The Foundation and Benenden Health have a joint commitment to improve young people’s lives, which mirrors that of the Department of Education, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Department for Health and Social Care in the national Action Plan.

The plan references the importance of daily physical activity at a time when one third of all children are leaving primary school overweight or obese. Only 17.5 per cent of children meet the guidance of completing at least 60 minutes of activity per day, a percentage YCFC Foundation and Benenden Health are trying to increase through their workshop programme in schools.

As part of Benenden Health’s purpose to improve the nation’s health, it provides useful resources to its members and the general public on the importance of physical activity levels and how this links to leading a healthy lifestyle.

Emma Keef, corporate social responsibility and engagement coordinator at Benenden Health, said: “We provide health information relevant to all stages throughout your life, covering health from birth to old age, therefore this outreach programme is a great way of sharing the message with children. The YCFC Foundation deliver excellent sessions that will inspire them to get active and keep fit.”

Ms Stainton added: “As always our programme also provides a longer term focus for the children and their families to engage with, whereby they will chart their minutes of different types of activity levels for a further two weeks after our coaches have worked in the school, as part of our accumulative challenge to encourage an increase in participation levels. We can’t wait to publish the weekly reveals for schools to engage with and for the children to realise the difference they are making together in encouraging even more people to get involved.”

Ms Stainton said physical and mental health are “inextricably linked,” and data from a Sport England survey shows that children who are physically literate are happier and more resilient.

Last year’s collaboration between YCFC Foundation and Benenden Health focused on this link with their ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ programme with resounding success. The programme not only educated nearly 2,000 young people in the link between physical and mental health, but also succeeded by claiming the award for Best Children’s Project 2018/19 from the National League Trust.