13/09/2012

Cancer-Fighting Primary School Programme Gets Education Minister's Backing

We all know that sunburn, smoking and obesity are risk factors for cancer.

So now, parents will be glad to hear that a leading cancer charity has launched an education package to encourage healthy lifestyles in children as young as three and four.

Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, has launched a free Schools Health Education Package in a bid to reduce Northern Ireland's children's future risk of cancer and other serious health conditions.

Key messages in the package will cover a range of relevant topics including healthy food choices, the importance of regular exercise, covering up in the sun to prevent skin damage and highlighting the harmful effects of smoking while developing the skills necessary to refuse that crucial first cigarette, the charity said.
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Clare Smith of Cancer Focus said the package, which involves visits, quizzes, practical experiments and a major competition, would encourage "positive health behaviours".

She said: "Developing children's attitudes at a young age when they are most receptive towards a variety of healthy foods, combined with regular exercise through active play, can help improve their concentration and sleeping patterns as well as reduce their future risk of cancer."

Education Minister John O'Dowd endorsed the programme, saying: "Exercise coupled with a healthy, balanced diet aids children's ability to focus in class, leading to improved educational outcomes and long term life chances."

Schools are invited to sign up for the whole package or any one element of the Programme by calling 028 9068 0736 or e-mailing claresmith@cancerfocusni.org.

Photograph: Oliver Smith, P3, Niamh McDaid, Cancer Focus, Lauren Herley, P7, and Zia Cromie, P5, at the launch of the Cancer Focus Northern Ireland free Schools Health Education Package.

(NE)

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