By Catherine Sanz
Fine Gael is backing an initiative to get every child in Ireland walking or running for 15 minutes a day to fight obesity and improve concentration.
The party said that it wanted schools to allocate time for children to walk or run a “daily mile”. The idea is not intended to be a substitute for PE.
The practice began in a UK school in 2012 and has been adopted by more than 3,600 schools in 35 countries. In Ireland 295 schools across all 26 counties have signed up to the programme since a pilot began in April.
Brendan Griffin, junior sport minister, will launch the initiative at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Inchicore, Dublin, today. He praised the “overall simplicity” of the campaign.
“There is no extra cost, no extra equipment or sports kit. This initiative is all about getting children out into the fresh air and being active,” he said.
“The impact of this type of engagement can be transformational, improving not only children’s fitness but also their concentration levels, mood, behaviour and general wellbeing.”
The daily mile initiative has been endorsed by Hamish Adams, head of Athletics Ireland. He said yesterday that getting children to move regularly at a young age was vital to keeping them healthy for life.
“Learning to love physical activity in the formative years can have a sea change effect on the rest of your life,” he said. “I hope that this is taken up by teachers everywhere.”
Catherina McKiernan, who in 1998 become the first Irish woman to win the London Marathon, said that she loved the idea because there was no element of competition. She said team sports could be intimidating to children.
“Some youngsters don’t like to compete and that’s fair, she said.
“The daily mile is great because the whole class can do it, not just the ones who are good at sport.”
This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of the content creator, Catherine Sanz, The Times.