Tommy Bowe launches Subway Sports for Schools

Photograph courtesy of Sinead Finnegan.

On Wednesday September 13th, Sports For Schools, in partnership with Subway, launched their campaign to encourage children to get involved in physical activity at Our Lady’s National School in Clonskeagh.

Ulster and International Rugby Star Tommy Bowe helped give the class on the day. He said “Sports for schools has been a great success across the water and I’m delighted to see it’s now being rolled out in Ireland.”

A press conference was later held at the Dylan Hotel in Donnybrook, where Bowe, a Subway brand ambassador known as a “Famous Fan,” elaborated further, stating how important it was that children take part in some physical activity and “keep active” as well as praising the other athletes working with Sports For Schools.
The campaign is also fronted and backed by Irish paralympians as well as olympians from the field of athletics.These world-class competitors include Clare Cunningham, a British team paralympic swimmer and paratriathlete and Kelvin Bates, Ireland’s top BMX rider, who qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, though he was ultimately unable to compete.

Michael Ledzion, founder and “chief sportivater” of Sports For Schools, explained that the enterprise’s “main aim is to encourage kids to take up physical activity,”
even if it isn’t necessarily a sport. Ledzion was keen to extol the benefits of exercise, especially on the brain. He explained that the brain actually grows from physical activity. The effect of this is increased concentration. Children who are persistent with physical activity outperform children who are less physically active. Ledzion explained that a physically-active child can be as productive in four hours as a less active child would be in five. The net effect of this was that “the top 10% of students are physically active.”

Sports For Schools begins with a “sportivator” who organises the event and instructs the children, they are aided by a star athlete. The pupils of the school then go through a fitness circuit, where children do star jumps, press-ups and similar activities.

Ledzion stated that children were overwhelmingly “fans” of the fitness circuit at schools. Sports For Schools focus on doing a fitness circuit rather than a particular sport, as many children do not like sport and “can be put off from exercising” as a result, explains Ledzion. He referred to the familiar experience of being “picked last for the team,” and how that can affect young children.
Of course, the benefit of physical activity on mental health is well attested, with a common result of exercise being a positive effect on mood. Ledzion stated it is “incredibly important for developing confidence, self-belief ” in children and that the initiative was based on encouraging children to take up “any physical activity.”

by Mac Sharry