Education news

Schoolchildren creating healthier and happier places

Pupils from St Kevin's PS launch the new school resource with their teacher Maria Tierney and Joan Devlin, Belfast Healthy Cities

A NEW teaching resource for schools aims to promote the link between the environment and health.

Healthy Places, Healthy Children provides opportunities for pupils to research their local area and develop proposals on how to make the environment more child friendly.

It also offers guidance on how to share their proposals with decision makers.

The resource, which complements the Northern Ireland curriculum, has been designed by Belfast Healthy Cities for Key Stage 2 children.

Piloted in more than 20 schools, it is supported by the Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Education Authority (EA).

St Kevin's PS in west Belfast was among the pilot schools.

It undertook a research project which assessed the area around their school and identified how it could be improved to increase physical activity and play for all pupils.

The children brought forward their proposals to the school council and also presented them to Belfast City councillors and other agencies. The project ultimately led to an extensive refurbishment of the school playground, introducing new play areas, active learning spaces and a new football and games area.

"The Healthy Places, Healthy Children programme encouraged our pupils to take the initiative and work together to transform the area around the school into something that allows all pupils to play, learn and enjoy their time at school," said principal Fiona Keegan.

"Since the play areas and active learning space have been completed, we have seen a change in how the children play, and an increase in their activity, improving their health and wellbeing."

The Healthy Places, Healthy Children Key Stage 2 Teaching Resource is publicly available for use by teachers, after schools' clubs and other groups through www.belfasthealthycities.com/hphc. Training videos will also be available to teachers through the EA website at www.eani.org.uk/services/eatv.

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