The GoFitba project is nearing its final week and our spotlight this time shines on the City of Discovery and St. Pius Primary School as they entered their penultimate week of the football-based, healthy-eating initiative.
The project’s aim is to educate primary school children, primarily living in disadvantaged areas, on the benefits of exercise and healthy-eating and it has been running in Dundee, courtesy of Dundee East Community Sports Club.
The DECSC, launched in time for the 2009-10 football season, is made up of four local city clubs Broughty Athletic Football Club, Broughty United Amateur Football Club, Broughty United Youth Football Club and Douglas Lads Football Club.
The day started with the football hour; a quick warm-up session before moving on to an entertaining three-a-side tournament to get the heart-rate up.
This was followed up by a catch-up of week 10's healthy-eating topic, covering the pros and cons of sugars and the dangers of too much salt in our everyday diet. The children were asked to undertake a number of tasks, including a guessing game of how many sugar cubes went into certain foods.
Once that was finished, the kids eagerly lined up for their hot meal of the day, a baked potato with beans and cheese, as well as a side of lentil soup and fruit.
Heading up the project for Dundee East is Craig Feret, who believes the overall experience has been a tremendous success.
“I think it’s been really, really good, it’s opened my eyes to what kids know and what kids don’t know. We definitely feel like we’ve helped with their knowledge of what’s good to eat and what’s bad to eat, what physical activity can do for you and other things like your table manners and your hygiene.
“The kids have been excellent so I think the project has gone really well, we’ve had god numbers, we average about 14 per week, so yes I think it’s going very well so far.
“Every week they’re coming in and doing a basic football hour, after the football session they’re asked to sit down and debrief what it is they’ve actually learned.
“Throughout the hour, there will be passing, shooting, dribbling and obviously trying to emphasise why they’re doing it.
“From there we then go into a classroom session, where we sit down and we go through our booklets with them and ask them questions about certain health benefits. Food, hygiene, nutrition, water intake and that type of thing and then at the end we’ve been providing them with a hot meal every week.
“They have been enjoying it. I think it’s a totally different programme to probably something they’ve experienced before, because a lot of after school clubs they come to, it’s all focused on just for one activity.
“Some of the feedback we’ve been getting is that there’s nothing like this out there for children, it’s a great initiative in terms of engagement and learning so not only are they taking part in an activity but they’re also learning about why they’re taking part in that activity and they’re also learning the importance of a healthy diet.
“We’re not telling them that they can’t do things, we’re just highlighting things and from there, they are making their own choices as to what it is they can actually do.
“In terms of the school feedback that we’ve had, they have been more than happy and I think there is potential to do some similar projects in the future with other schools in the surrounding area.”
The project has also proven a big hit with the children of St. Pius as well, who have greatly enjoyed learning about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Lucas, 9 said, “We’ve been learning about how you play on the field and we’ve been learning about how to stay healthy. I think the most important part was when we had to find out what was good for our diet.”
Aidan 10, “I’ve been learning about communication and passing and getting people to try and pass it [the ball] to you.
“Bad fats can affect your body and it’s important to drink lots of water when taking part in any sport.
“We also learned about somebody who went to McDonald’s for a month for an experiment to see what would happen to his body and he felt sick on the fifth or fourth day.”
Kerra 9, said, “We’ve been practicing heading and that you have to head with your forehead and not the top of your head or you’ll go home with a very sore head.
“I find the most fun is when we have a proper tournament, like a proper game where it’s just two teams and they’re playing against each other.
“We’ve learned that there is a certain fruit that makes your hair grow and that a banana makes you happy apparently and if you eat healthily then it doesn’t just keep you fit, it also gives you energy.”
As the project nears its final week, it’s clear to see the progress that has been made on educating young children about healthy-eating and it certainly bodes well that other schools in Dundee may take up a project like this in the future.
It has certainly had a positive effect on all involved and it looks set to have a lasting impact.