A survey looking at physical activity in children aged 7 to 12 living in Romanian low-income urban neighbourhood has revealed that less than a quarter of those interviewed reached the daily minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity recommended by the World Health Organization.
To tackle this issue and promote physical activity, today the World Heart Federation (WHF) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) launch the Children in the City project, in partnership with Healthy Stadia, the Romanian Heart Foundation, and the Romanian Football Federation. The project will be implemented during the coming months in six low-income urban neighbourhood schools: in Bucharest, Cluj and Timisoara
Be Active, Love Your Heart
Under the banner of ‘Be Active, Love Your Heart’, children will learn the importance of physical activity and be encouraged to be more active. A number of activities have been developed to inspire coaches and teachers to make sport more fun and inclusive, and to help children – and their parents, teachers, coaches, community workers, etc –remove the barriers that make access to physical activity harder, such as lack of time, over-competitiveness and poor acknowledgment of the positive effects of physical activity.
“Football is not only a great game, it is also a healthy physical activity. Our goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle for children through our sport and tackle poor diet and obesity, while having fun. Because being healthy is fun too”.
Peter Gilliéron, chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee
World Heart Federation CEO Johanna Ralston said: “Physical inactivity is one of the main modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease and setting healthy habits early in life is essential to staying healthy through all ages of life. Being active in a big city can be challenging, which is why the campaign has been specifically designed to encourage children and young people (7-12 years old) living in low-income urban neighbourhoods to increase their level of physical activity.”
As part of the project, a leaflet for children and toolkits for their caretakers have been developed in partnership with Healthy Stadia to provide information on the benefits of physical activity. Freely available to all, these also offer practical tips and ideas to be more active at school and at home. Sporting activities like football add fun to the day, are accessible, keep children healthy and stronger, increase self confidence and help children to develop social circles and skills. In the participating schools, children will take part in a walking contest focusing on improvement, rather than on competitiveness.