Pupils taught to live an active lifestyle

There was excitement during an exercise session at Mfuleni Primary School.

Healthy eating and exercising now form part of Mfuleni Primary School’s curriculum, thanks to the Disney Healthy Happy Play programme, which was introduced to the school by Sporting Chance on Wednesday August 24.

The programme focuses on exercise and nutrition and is being implemented with material developed in collaboration with the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and the Department of Basic Education.

The programme provides fun and creative tools for teachers and pupils, using Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy and their stories.

At the launch, the organisers urged pupils and the community to start exercising and to eat well.

Project manager Bradlyn Stuurman said most people do not exercise and do not check their diet. He encouraged pupils to make efforts to remain in shape and spread the word outside the school premises.

He said the programme would reach 30 schools and 15 000 pupils in four provinces – KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape – in the coming months. The programme started early this month.

“This is to highlight the benefits of exercising and healthy eating. We speak to pupils about the nutrition and living a good life,” he said.

“We want to empower more schools to embed physical education into their curriculums. This will help children not to sleep in class. It also addresses the obesity problem that the country is facing.”

Mr Stuurman said the Disney characters help the pupils to grasp information.

He said the iconic characters were well known by Grade 3 pupils.

“But we also focus on physical education, music filled and fun morning assemblies and an edu module when we use these characters,” said Mr Stuurman.

“We encourage children to tell their parents and their friends outside of school. Children are getting obese because they eat chips and do not exercise.”

Mr Stuurman said schools would receive continued support through a mentoring and monitoring system with regular assessments and a database of schools and teachers would also be developed to create a network for sharing skills and ongoing development.

Grade 3 teacher Bulelwa Mini said she was thrilled with the introduction of the programme. She said it would help pupils that have no interest in sport. “This is exciting to us as the school. Our children will keep fit and healthy. It will give them mental fitness. There are those children that are not good in books but more into sport, it will lift their spirits. They will be motivated,” she said.

Ms Mini said the programme would also help improve children’s concentration in class.

Grade 3 pupil Unam Mahonono said exercises were not new to him because he is an athlete. However, he said it will help others to love sport.

“I like running. I always run after school. This will help others who do not do sport. But with food that we must eat, it is not going to be easy for us. But we will try,” he said.