The Scottish Government is well on its way to reaching its target of 150 Community Sports Hubs across 32 Local Authorities by 2016. Their development is supported with £1.5 million per year.
Ellie Simmonds OBE, who has won four Paralympic gold medals launches this year’s Sainsbury’s Active Kids scheme today. Marking the start of the 2016 voucher collection, Ellie was joined by Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Shona Robison MSP and local school children at Holyrood in Edinburgh.
Ellie Simmonds and Shona Robison MSP talked about the benefits the Active Kids scheme brings to Scotland and how over the last 11 years it has encouraged children to lead healthier and more active lives. There are 2,250 registered organisations in Scotland, which include schools and nurseries, sports clubs, the Scouts and Girlguiding.
Five pupils from Blackhall Primary school, on Craigcrook Road in Edinburgh were chosen to represent their school at the event and given the chance to meet Ellie Simmonds and Shona Robison MSP. The school was one of the top collecting schools in Scotland last year by collecting over 74,000 Active Kids vouchers which has enabled them to receive cooking utensils, gym, mats and dance lessons.
Active Kids launched in 2005 to help inspire school children to get more involved in physical activity. The programme has grown and expanded to include healthy eating and cooking equipment available from the voucher collection scheme. There is also a range of free Cooking and Nutrition Toolkits – endorsed by the British Nutrition Foundation, they are available to teachers to help children learn about a balanced diet.
Arran Finlay, Headteacher at Blackhall Primary School said:
“This has been a fantastic opportunity for our pupils. Ellie is such an inspiration and we wish her all the best for the Paralympics Games in Rio."
“We’ve seen huge benefits from the Active Kids scheme which is due to the generosity of parents, friends and Sainsbury's. We’ve recently had a brand new gym hall fitted with most of the resources coming from the scheme and the children love it.”
In Scotland alone, over £4million worth of equipment and experiences have been donated to local schools, sports clubs and organisations since 2005.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Shona Robison MSP, said:
“It was a pleasure to meet Ellie and the children from Blackhall Primary today. There are few things more important than the health of our children, and the Active Kids scheme is a great way to give them extra opportunities to be physically active and eat healthily. It’s great to see the benefits the scheme has had across Scotland and I look forward to seeing more success this year.”
The scheme also focuses on calories in and calories out, teaching children good healthy eating behaviours. This year, the Taste Buddies Challenge has been introduced to help parents try new foods with their children. Children who enjoy a wider variety of foods are more likely to enjoy a healthy balanced diet and be ‘better eaters’. The challenge will encourage children across the UK to broaden their diets by trying a wider variety of foods by going on a flavour-inspired tasting adventure.
Using research to find out key food groups that children typically struggle with, Sainsbury’s has identified five gateway foods, using the five key taste areas, which will help parents introduce their children to these tricky food types. We found that over 50% of children are more likely to try new foods when they help cook it themselves. Helpful toolkits including exclusive recipes for each of the gateway foods for parents to cook and try at home with their kids, have been created and are available on the Active Kids website.
Ellie Simmonds has been an Active Kids Ambassador for six years, she added:
“As an Active Kids Ambassador, I’ve been able to see first-hand how the scheme has helped children all over the UK. It’s been great to visit Scotland and a meet the pupils from Blackhall Primary School. This year’s scheme is even bigger and better and schools can sign up to the Paralympic Challenge, which I’m really looking forward to supporting.
Eating a balanced diet is just as important as exercising. I love experimenting with food and it’s great to see that Active Kids is encouraging this as part of the scheme.”
The Paralympic Challenge, is a new initiative to get 2.5 million young people to learn more about Paralympic sports and try them out ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. By taking part, schools can receive free equipment, online resources and the opportunity to win money can’t buy prizes, including a trip to Rio. Schools can register at www.ActiveKidsParalympicChallenge.co.uk
For more information on the Active Kids scheme, this year’s Paralympic Challenge and the Taste Buddies Challenge please visit https://activekids.sainsburys.co.uk/