Building a more active nation vital to address health issues: paper

ABU DHABI, 1st September, 2016 (WAM) — The recent addition of a health science subject to the school curriculum is being seen as a good step towards addressing health issues, says an English language daily in an editorial today.

Health education will build students’ awareness, knowledge and skills, and enable them to develop positive attitudes about health and fitness. Children certainly need to learn how to maintain their health, be it physical, emotional and social, and how to prevent illness by modifying their behaviour. However, it is also important to encourage children to increase their physical activity by implementing a comprehensive school-based physical activity programme, according to the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National.

“Under the new reforms, high school pupils will have two 45-minute periods of physical education a week. But this doesn’t seem to be the case in lower school levels. Children need to be active at all ages to gain and maintain physical and mental health.

“Every part of the community has a role to play in encouraging physical activity. Take the example of ITV, one of Britain’s leading broadcasters, which went so far as to shut down seven of its channels for an hour last Saturday morning in the hope of encouraging viewers to take some exercise and participate in a national sports day event called ‘I Am Team GB’. As part of the event, many sports and fitness clubs opened their doors free.”

The National went on to say that initiatives such as this can play a big role in engaging the community in sport and other physical activity.

“The same discussion should be happening here in the UAE. We should ask: what more can we do to build and foster an active culture that appreciates and celebrates sports? We could take a leaf out of ITV’s book and have a voluntary ‘go dark, go out’ hour, when televisions, gaming consoles and mobile phones – yes, that’s right, even mobile phones – are switched off and people venture outdoors. Perhaps a broadcaster or telecommunications provider could even sponsor the occasion.”

The editorial concluded by saying, “We look forward to venues such as Zabeel Park in Dubai or Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi hosting such an event. No phones, no internet, no messaging. Just walking and talking with real live humans.”