Published: Thu, 01 August 2013
Sean Kelly MEP is urging the government to increase the number of hours dedicated to PE in Irish schools in order to boost physical and mental health amongst school-goers.
The former GAA President has written to both Ministers for Education and Health, Ruairí Quinn and James Reilly, emphasising the need to encourage young people to play sports every day, as part of a healthy lifestyle.
His comments come ahead of the planned introduction of new Junior Certificate cycle curriculum, which has led to concerns that dedicated PE hours may be reduced.
“A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. A healthier nation will ease the pressure on our health system and ensure citizens have a better quality of life.
“That is what I have stressed to both the Minister for Education and Health in urging them to consider increasing the mandatory hours for PE during school. I have asked that they look seriously at this issue.
“At European level, I, along with my colleagues on the Sport Working Group in the European Parliament, am championing an initiative to get an extra 100 million people more active, more often.
“For some reason, people tend to give up or greatly lessen the amount of exercise they do with age. We need to change that downward spiral.
“Thankfully, I helped secure substantial EU funding to support a unique all-Ireland research project on that very topic.
“Dr Fiona Chambers, University College Cork (UCC) and Professor Deirdre Brennan, University of Ulster joined forces to convene the All Island Sport and Physical Activity Pedagogy Partnership (AI-SPAPP) to address the issue.”
Mr Kelly launched the research initiative earlier this year which has begun its work bringing together researchers from University College Cork; the University of Ulster; the University of Limerick; Dublin City University; Cork Institute of Technology, Tralee; athletes; young people; policy makers; and practitioners. It aims to devise a research strategy that will help improve teaching/coaching and learning in sport and physical activity.
“This is the kind of joined-up thinking we need to reverse Ireland’s slump into obesity and poor health,” Mr Kelly, a former school teacher, added.