Schools in East Sussex are to receive £10,000 grants to help them defuse the “ticking time bomb” of childhood obesity.
A total of 178 schools and colleges will share £2million of health improvement grants from East Sussex County Council’s public health department.
Several schools have already taken part in a pilot project, with the money being sent on schemes ranging from healthy tuck shops and cookery clubs to family fitness events and workshops.
One of the pilot schools, Park Mead Primary, in Upper Dicker, near Hailsham, used part of the funding to install a pathway around the school field to allow children to run a ‘daily mile’ in all weathers.
Headteacher Lizzie Field said: “Since we started the daily mile we have seen a big increase in the fitness of our pupils, who are energised when they come back into the classrooms, and have better sleep patterns when they get home.
“It’s such a simple and highly effective idea which is already reaping rewards, and many pupils continue the habit at home during the holidays.”
Among the other pilot schools were: All Saints and St Richards Primary, in Old Heathfield, which created fruit and veg sculptures to promote healthy eating and hired some one to teach cooking skills with a focus on healthy foods.
Churchwood Primary, in St Leonards, held a ‘healthy eating fortnight’, and ran food hygiene courses and road safety sessions.
Grovelands Primary, in Hailsham, held a ‘healthy week’, which included fitness activities, cooking clubs and planting school beds with vegetables and herbs. Parents were invited to share healthy recipes.
At Hollington Primary, in St Leonards, a ‘healthy tuck shop’ was developed and assemblies were held on healthy eating and dental hygiene, physical activity and healthy eating challenges.
And at Robsack Wood Primary Academy and Nursery, in St Leonards, a ‘healthy lifestyle month’ was held, including workshops on healthy lunchboxes, family fitness events in schools and training for staff to support emotional wellbeing.
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Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public health, said: “Childhood obesity is a ticking time-bomb which poses a real risk to our children’s health, so prevention and early intervention is key.
“Schools are already doing a lot to improve children’s health and this funding will allow them to do even more to change the way they support young people to lead healthy lives, which not only improves children’s health but also their educational performance.”