DCU and the Irish Heart Foundation team up to introduce a new physical activity programme

Alison Clair

DCU and the Irish Heart Foundation are teaming up to get 200,000 young teenagers physically active.

According to research carried out by DCU’s School of Health and Human Performance, it was found that one in four Irish young people are overweight or obese.

This research has resulted in Dublin City University and the Irish Heart Foundation teaming up to introduce a new physical activity knowledge and movement programme, which aims to help over 200,000 teenagers at Junior Certificate cycle get active.

“We are all aware of the importance of literacy and numeracy for our young people, it is not disputed. Physical literacy is arguably far more important – it is about the health of our children now and into their adulthood, protecting them from the range of chronic diseases related to inactivity”, said Dr Sarahjane Belton, the DCU lecturer who led this research.

The new initiative called Y-PATH PE 4 ME (Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health) is a three year programme, developed as a result of this research. This initiative wants to improve both physical activity levels and fundamental movement skills among Irish teens aged 12-15.

Fundamental movement skills are basic physical skills such as running, jumping, catching, throwing and kicking which children should master around the age of six or seven. In her research Belton found that fewer than one in every one hundred young Irish people have mastered these basic fundamental movement skills.

As Physical Education has now become a compulsory part of the curriculum in Irish schools, the objective of Y-PATH PE 4 ME is to change how our young people experience PE class. Traditionally focused on competitive activities and games, PE class used to often alienate inactive young people, and move them farther from an active lifestyle.

This new initiative encourages a healthy mindset around the benefits of physical activity and its impact on a person’s social, emotional and physical development.

Ciara Walsh, the chairperson of The Science and Health society in DCU said that they are “delighted to hear that DCU is promoting healthy lifestyles among teenagers. We’re excited to see how this initiative goes and will support it in any way we can”.

The Y-PATH PE 4 ME programme will be implemented in schools across the country by DCU and the Irish Heart Foundation in conjunction with UCC, along with the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and Sport Ireland. They aim to have reached their target of 200,000 in three years.

By Alison Clair

Image credit: MediaHQ