Health focus must fall on children

John Holdich
John Holdich

Peterborough City Council Leader cllr John Holdich:

Every week I read stories in the media about what I should or shouldn’t be doing to improve my health or increase my life expectancy.

One week it’s beneficial to have a glass of wine a day, the next it’s not. Having too much sleep can kill you, but so can not enough - how do you strike the right balance!

If you’re like me you probably find it confusing and contradicting. Our Healthy Peterborough campaign is trying to offer residents some clarity by providing medically proven information and advice on how to kick poor health into touch, by making simple lifestyle changes. Each month the campaign targets a different health issue and in July the focus has turned to our youngest residents.

Improving the health of our children is so important as I believe that those who are healthy and physically active perform better at school because they are happier and more confident.

We have invested heavily in our schools in the past few years so that all our children, regardless of where they live in the city, receive the best possible education and the best start in life. I’m proud that currently more than 85 per cent of our schools are judged good or better by Ofsted.

That’s all very well, but it’s just as important that we concentrate on improving the health of our children so that they are best able to succeed at school.

Exercise and healthy eating both help children maintain a healthy weight which reduces their risk of poor health. A healthy weight can also increase self-confidence and improve concentration, which helps them to learn and go on to achieve great things.

Our young people seem much more aware of their health than they ever used to be, as I saw at last week’s Children’s Film Awards at KingsGate Community Church.

The awards allowed some of our most creative pupils to show off their filmmaking talents by producing short films about topical issues, which included healthy eating and taking regular exercise. It was really encouraging to see that they are thinking about what they eat and what they can do to keep fit and healthy.

It was a fantastic night and I was blown away by the standard of the films produced, especially given the ages of the children who were all under 11.

Once again it showed me what promising talent we have in our schools - talent that can only be nurtured further with some help and support around improving their health.

There’s lots happening in the next couple of months if you want to help your child to get out and about.

Places are available on the summer National Citizen Service programme which involves a week away at an activity centre and a week based in Peterborough exploring the community, skill building and planning and building a project.

It’s a great way for 15 to 17 year olds to make extraordinary friendships and learn the skills they don’t teach you in class. Programmes are due to get underway on 11 July and 1 August so to find out more visit www.peterborough.gov.uk

Looking further ahead, it’s now less than 100 days until this year’s Perkins Great Eastern Run. The half marathon and Anna’s Hope fun run take place on 9 October 2016.

School children are being encouraged to sign up to the Anna’s Hope Schools Challenge which is taking place as part of the fun run. Every child who runs the race and raises money for Anna’s Hope will receive a certificate and the school that raises the most money will win the Anna’s Hope Schools Challenge Cup. There are prizes to be won too including £500 to be spent at ChromaSport.

To get your Anna’s 
Hope Schools Challenge Pack email admin@annashope.co.uk or call 01780 740492.