Portadown scheme credited with positive impact on young people's health

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  • Amid media reports this week that 40% of young people in Northern Ireland are now obese or overweight, an awards ceremony in Portadown has shown how a key initiative encourages children to lead a healthy lifestyle. 

    Eighty young people from the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon area who completed the Portadown Gets Active Youth programme over the summer months have been presented with Open College Network (OCN) accredited awards at a special celebration event.

    The Portadown Gets Active programme, funded by the McClay Foundation and supported by Craigavon-headquartered Almac, was delivered through the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) with partners Children in Northern Ireland, Pathway Activities NI, Oasis Youth Project, Education Authority, Public Health Agency and Brakes.

    The youth summer programme encouraged young people to stay active during the summer months and helped them understand the importance of healthy living by providing them with the skills and confidence to cook simple nutritious meals on a budget. The OCN accreditation of the programme shows the possibilities of learning outside of a school setting and over the summer months in a fun and interactive way.

    The Portadown Gets Active Programme emphasised the confidence, independence and team building skills that were built in the young people who participated on the programme. 

    In addition to creating a safe place for young people to continue learning and participate in physical activities during school holidays, the programme also fostered their relationship building skills and helped develop resilience to improve emotional wellbeing.

    The awards evening was attended by statutory agencies including the Education Authority, Southern Health and Social Care Trust and the Health and Social Care Board.

    Thirty eight young people received an OCN in Healthy Living and 58, aged between eight and 12 were awarded with a mini medic’s first aid certificate of achievement. The awards event also recognised 20 peer mentors aged 12 to 16 year who received an OCN in Peer Mentoring and collectively accrued over 720 volunteering hours of support on the programme over the summer months. 

    Hugh McCaughey, chair of the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP), commended the programme, saying: “CYPSP are committed to identifying what works through partnership working, co-design and co-production with organisations, children and their families. This work is being driven by a regional task and finish group for Northern Ireland.”

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