Children from St Sebastian's School

Fitness, Food and Football

As of September, the Foundation’s football coaches have been out and about in local schools speaking to primary school children about leading a healthy lifestyle.

It is all part of a new educational programme called ‘Something to Chew On’ which is an interactive project aimed at teaching 7-8 year olds about their own health.  The project is themed around food, nutrition and getting active but with a football focus Topics covered include: diet and health, food safety, consumer awareness, food preparation, being active and football fitness with controlling body movement.  Andy Smith is the coordinator for the scheme, he says:

“There is a lot of pressure on kids these days so we want to promote healthy living in a fun way so that they learn important lessons and improve the quality of their lives. Learning about healthy food and exercise should be something that children enjoy and that is where the Manchester United Foundation can really help, using football and the Manchester United name to capture their imagination. “

The Manchester United link is a vital tool to inspire young people and this is of course what the Foundation is all about. Mark Mort is responsible for the ‘Something to Chew On’ classroom sessions, he explains why working for Manchester United makes his job so much easier:

“All the children are really enthusiastic about the course and are getting stuck in.  We want to make this fun, so where we can we try to link topics to the players and the club.  So for instance, in one of the lessons we ask them to design a healthy menu for the players.  Thinking about what they would give Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand or Ryan Giggs for lunch makes the task much more exciting for them.The kids we have seen have good prior knowledge but they are learning new things each week.”

Manchester United Foundation has received grant funding from the Food Standards Agency and the Premier League/PFA Community fund to run the project.

“Learning how to choose, cook and eat safe, healthy food from a young age is an invaluable tool and we are delighted to be involved in this excellent programme," said Rosemary Hignett, Head of Nutrition, Food Standards Agency.  "As well as gaining essential food skills, young people will be given the opportunity to get active through football.  The skills young people will develop through these activities will both be fun and interesting, but more importantly they will hopefully have a positive and lasting impact through to their adult lives.”

The Premier League/PFA Community Fund enables Premier League clubs' community departments to apply for grants to start innovative new projects, or develop and enhance the many they already deliver. The three-year fund is administered and managed by the Football Foundation.

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said:  “This funding for the Manchester United Foundation’s ‘Something to Chew On’ project is good news for the city’s youngsters. Working in partnership with the Food Standards Agency the project will encourage seven and eight year olds to eat healthily and enjoy an active lifestyle through twice-weekly football sessions.”


Reported by: Rachael Pilsbury
Date: 08 October 2008

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