Page content

Ulster University’s Derry~Londonderry campus has hosted a conference exploring physical activity in schools with over 60 delegates, including teachers, researchers, physical activity co-ordinators as well as commissioners, from north and south of the border.

The event included an opening address from the Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Neil Guckian, and an engaging panel discussion, chaired by Ulster University’s Professor Marie Murphy, with representatives from the Public Health Agency, Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), local schools and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

Delegates also had an opportunity to gain insight into the soon-to-be-published findings of the latest phase of the Ulster University-led, cross-border Walking in Schools (WISH) study. This study, involving 18 schools and 589 girls, evaluated the effectiveness of a school-based walking intervention aimed at improving levels of physical activity among adolescent girls. The WISH Study is a partnership between Ulster University, Atlantic Technological University (ATU), University of Bristol and University of Wolverhampton, and has been funded by the Cross-border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN).

Other research presented at the conference included Sport Ireland and Northern Ireland’s Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study (CSPPA) 2018, Ulster University’s Walk Buds Study, and EUMOVE, an Erasmus+ study aiming to design and implement a comprehensive set of strategies and resources to enable the educational community to promote healthy lifestyles among children and adolescents. Two ongoing intervention studies that have been successful in other regions and have been adapted for the Northern Ireland context, Y-PATH and C-SLAMM, were also presented.

The event was wrapped up with a walk across the Peace Bridge.

Dr Maria O’Kane, Research Fellow and WISH Trial Manager at Ulster University said:

“We were delighted to bring together academics, educators, physical activity practitioners and research commissioners from both sides of the border to the Walled City to discuss physical activity in schools and how we can influence change as both researchers and educators.

“As we look to publish the findings of the Ulster University-led WISH study this summer, this event was a great way to bring together physical activity experts to build and strengthen existing collaborations and explore ways that together we can improve physical activity levels among our young people.”

Professor Marie Murphy, Professor of Exercise and Health at Ulster University, and Co-Principal Investigator of the WISH Study, said:

“This event was an excellent opportunity to showcase ongoing school-based physical activity research at Ulster University, particularly as many of the physical activity habits we create during our school years are carried through to adulthood. It is estimated that only 10% of post-primary school pupils meet physical activity guidelines so it is important that we create innovative physical activity interventions for our young people, especially as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our Derry~Londonderry campus proved to be the perfect setting for the event, and we were able to close the event with an enjoyable walk across the Peace Bridge for delegates. Our thanks to the Research Impact Fund (UU), CHITIN Programme and Erasmus+ who provided funding to help us host the event.”

To find out more information, visit: