Borrisokane secondary students
enjoying their boxercise demonstration
as part of the Fit Schools project recently
with our tutor Matt Power
Fit Schools is a North Tipperary Sports Partnership initiative designed to encourage and acknowledge whole school (secondary school) commitment to fitness and healthy lifestyles. Secondary school children were identified by the board of the North Tipperary Sports Partnership as a group that were at risk of developing sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy nutrition habits.
The programme offers a well-defined way for a secondary school to take issues around physical activity and fitness and healthy living and apply them to the day-to day-running of a secondary school.
This process will help pupils recognise the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle and take them more seriously in their personal and home lives. An award will be given to schools that complete the seven steps of the programme.
The Seven Steps of ‘Fit Schools’
• A Fit Schools Committee
(the Fit Schools committee aims to direct and address all phases of the programme. It should be as representative of the whole school as possible)
• School Fitness and Health Review
(the aim of the review is to identify the initial situation within the school regarding levels of physical activity and nutrition , the review process also helps raise awareness of the programme within the school)
• Action Plan
(the action plan aims to identify goals and provide a structured timetable which will increase levels of physical activity and improve nutrition in the school. This is the core of the Fit-schools programme, and should be developed from the results of the review)
• Monitoring and Evaluation
(this aims to check your progress and indicate areas for change if necessary. It should also be developed in parallel with the action plan)
• Curriculum Work
(this aims to integrate the Fit Schools programme with the curriculum work of the school when and where possible)
• Informing and Involving
(this step aims to spread the Fit Schools message throughout the whole school and the wider community through ongoing publicity and a ‘Day of Activity’. The Day of Activity is an opportunity for student, staff and the whole community to get together to work towards achieving some of the targets set out inthe school’s action plan. It may be carried out in conjunction with local or national projects( ie National Exercise Weekend)
• Fit-Code (A statement of the school’s commitment to active and healthy habits. The Fit Code should be negotiated by as many of the students and staff as possible and should be related to the action plan and curriculum work. Each statement should describe an action that all students and staff can carry out)
Secondary Schools that establish all seven elements and achieve recorded improvements in their levels of physical activity,fitness and nutrition can apply for a Fit Schools Award. The Award must be renewed every two years.
Benefits to the School
‘Fit Schools’ offers a secondary school opportunities to:
• Help develop children’s healthy and active lifestyle skills
• Increase the levels of physical activity and fitness in the school
• A way to build student’s confidence and sense of teamwork through participation
• To improve school spirit and the school environment
• To involve the local community
• To access a network of support agencies
Sport in Second Level Schools
(School Children and Sport in Ireland ESRI report 2005,
(the study is based on survey data collected from nationally representative school-based samples of students in second-level schools and 5th and 6th class in primary schools. The sample consists of 3,527 students in 80 schools at second level, and
3,833 pupils in 137 schools at primary level)
Students in second-level schools receive less PE per week than is recommended in the PE syllabuses for second level. The average was 69 minutes of PE per student per week compared to the recommended two hours per week. Transition Year students were the only ones to come close to the recommended level. Boys got slightly more PE than girls, and students in the earlier years of the second-level cycle got more than those in the later years.
School principals believe that the main obstacles to raising students levels of sport and PE are pressures of time from schoolwork, especially at senior cycle and inadequate facilities. Students own attitudes to sport and PE are strongly positive. Of the possible negative aspects, the only one to cause widespread concern among students was the fear of being left out because they were not good enough.
Overweight and Obesity
Among second level students 4.5% of boys and 3.8% of girls were found to be obese and a further 15.4% of boys and 16.6% of girls were overweight. Taking these two categories together, approx. one in five second-level students was either obese or overweight!
Importance of Sport for Children
The main health benefits commonly associated with physical activity for children are
• improved cardiovascular performance,
• strengthing of the musculosketal system,
• reduced stress and anxiety,
• enhanced self-esteem
• reduced risk chronic disease such as hypertension
• type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Fit Schools Management Team
North Tipperary Sports Partnership
HSE (Health Promotion Officer and Dietician)
North Tipperary VEC
Qualified Fitness Instructor
North Tipperary County Council