The Ulster Sports Academy at the University of Ulster has launched the ‘Sport for LIFE All Island’ project, encouraging primary school children to participate in physical activity.
The award-winning venture, run by the Ulster Sports Outreach Unit, will target over 200 schools and 4,000 children in low socio-economic areas across Ireland.
Working in partnership with Dublin City University, University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Galway, the project will be delivered by trained student volunteers from each university along with primary school teachers.
Sport for LIFE is recognised by both the World Health Organisation (WHO), for best practice in promoting physical activity to marginalised groups and the Schools for Health in Europe (SHE) network, for promoting physical activity as part of the European Food Framework.
Sport for LIFE and the Sport for LIFE ‘Teaching Training Legacy’ projects were awarded London 2012 Inspire Awards.
University of Ulster PVC (Development) and Provost (Jordanstown/Belfast), Professor Alastair Adair said: “Sport for LIFE All Island is a very positive development and an excellent example of practical, mutually beneficial, cross border co-operation.
“Using physical activity and health as a unifying theme, we are delighted to unite with other leading universities across the island to mobilise our richest resources – our students and staff – to contribute to the extension of sport and physical activity programmes to children across the island.
“Facilitating access for children and young people to the world class sports facilities across higher education institutions also adds great value to this initiative.”
Professor Deirdre Brennan, Sport for LIFE All Island Project Leader at Ulster said: “The Sport for LIFE project was successful in significantly increasing vigorous, moderate and light physical activity levels among children living in areas of disadvantage across Northern Ireland.
“It was also successful in reducing the sedentary behaviour of children. We are delighted that we are now in a position to share this best practice programme with other colleagues, so that children from across the island of Ireland can benefit.”
Ulster’s Dr Gavin Breslin Sport for LIFE Research Leader, said: “It makes sense, given the similarity of issues related to health and physical activity, to co-operate and where practical to share resources for the benefit of the entire island.
“This ‘All Island’ programme can facilitate mutual understanding, skill migration and capacity building in the context of physical activity and health pedagogies.”
Funding for the project, to the tune of $350,000, has come from The Coca-Cola Foundation.