DRAGON SPORT AIMS TO GET WALES ON THE MOVE

7 Nov 2005

As ITV Wales’ On the Move campaign – a national initiative encouraging everyone to improve their health – gathers momentum, the Sports Council for Wales is calling on the children and parents of Wales to boost activity levels in Wales.

The Sports Council’s Dragon Sport scheme has teamed up with the ITV Wales series to get more children moving and more adults volunteering. Broadcast at 5:15pm on ITV 1 Wales on Sunday the 13 of November, the programme turns its focus to children and out of school hours sport to extol the lifelong benefits of exercise and the value of volunteering.

Funded by the National Lottery, Dragon Sport offers primary and junior school children sporting opportunities outside PE lessons. With seven sports to choose from – athletics, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rugby and tennis – Dragon Sport provides the tools that can help transform children into active individuals.

Lack of exercise can lead to a number of other serious health problems such as diabetes to heart disease to asthma to osteoporosis - which may not present themselves until later in life. And with childhood obesity high on the news agenda, there is no better time for children to be making the most of the opportunities available.

But as important as it is to get children involved, parents have a pivotal part to play and needn’t be confined to the sidelines. With a wealth of experience at their disposal, rolling up the sleeves and pitching in with activities sets an ideal example for children to follow. And because an active child is more likely to become an active adult, it’s important that healthy habits are hatched from an early age – both in school and at home – to stem the habit of inactivity.

And you don’t have to be a sporting superpower to get involved. Sporting novices and veterans alike receive full training and support. Whether coaching at the coal-face or fundraising behind the scenes, your services will play a crucial part in developing sport and keeping kids active.

Anne Hamilton, Head of Active Young People said:

"While the primary focus is getting more of our schoolchildren active and improving sports provision, this can’t happen without the support of parents and teachers. Sport is an ideal way to spend time together as a family and getting involved sets a great example to children. The future health of the nation is in the hands of our children, so it’s fantastic to see Wales on the Move backing the Dragon Sport scheme."

Sport and exercise must be placed at the heart of Welsh life if we are to create a healthier nation. The Welsh Assembly Government have led the way through the publication of the sport and physical activity strategy, 'Climbing Higher' which is designed to encourage more people to participate in sport and active recreation.

Since its launch in October 2000 Dragon Sport has exceeded all expectations. Latest figures show that 1265 schools involved across Wales easily surpassing the original target of getting half of all Welsh primary schools on board by 2005. The scheme is ever expanding, and more parents and helpers are needed to support the growth. Everyone is welcome, including parents, students, school staff, grandparents and other family members.

Hoping to add to the volunteer numbers, this year – with the help of Wales on the Move - Dragon Sport hopes to kick start a mass volunteers movement across the nation.

NORTH WALES CASE STUDIES FEATURED

LLANDYGARN PRIMARY SCHOOL, LLANGEFNI, ANGLESEY

Contact: Miss Richards (Headteacher)

Dragon Sport Coordinator: Helena Burrows

Due to the limited number of teachers at such a small school, extra-curricular activities were quite difficult to organise. However, following discussions by the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA), the children of Llandygarn School now benefit from regular after-school Dragon Sport clubs which are organised and run by qualified parents rather than teachers.

ACREFAIR PRIMARY SCHOOL, WREXHAM

Contact: Richard Jones (Headteacher)

Dragon Sport Coordinator: Myra Redman

At Acrefair Primary School, Year 6 pupils are encouraged to recruit other pupils into organised Dragon Sport activities.

Dragon Sport activities are run in the playground during lunch-hours and have been successful in targeting children who do not regularly take part in physical activity or who are unable to attend after-school clubs.

DEESIDE ATHLETICS CLUB, DEESIDE COLLEGE, CONNAH’S QUAY

Contact: Denise Harris (Secretary)

Dragon Sport Coordinator: Sian Williams

Coaches from Deeside Athletics Club and the local Dragon Sport Coordinator have developed an outreach athletics programme, creating closer links between the club and local schools in the area.

For the children who consider the leap from school athletics to club athletics to great, the Deeside Athletics contingent has set up satellite clubs in schools in the surrounding area where qualified coaches can forge relationships and identify talent at a young age at after-school sessions. The children are able to develop this talent in familiar surroundings and eventually progress to club level using the Dragon Sport satellite sessions as a stepping stone in the process.

SOUTH WALES CASE STUDIES FEATURED

GRAIG-Y-RHACCA PRIMARY SCHOOL, MACHEN, CAERPHILLY

Contact: Mrs Lynette Jones

Club volunteer leader: Rob Bailey

Dragon Sport Coordinator: Hannah Mawson

Parent Rob Bailey approached the school with a plethora of ideas to encourage after-school activity for the pupils. He is now running four sports clubs, providing links for children to get engaged in community sport and is recruiting his own volunteers from older pupils in the area to assist in his quest to increase extra-curricular activity in the Machen area.

HYWEL DDA JUNIOR SCHOOL, ELY, CARDIFF

Contact: Phil Rees

Dragon Sport Coordinator: Yvonne Hughes

This Dragon Sport scheme offers on the spot training for parents and volunteers who wish to get involved in providing after-school sessions to the pupils of Hywel Dda school. Volunteers are asked to take part in a one hour training session with a qualified leader before working with the children.