Coghlan proposes 'fitness for life'


Independent Senator and former world record-holding athlete Eamonn Coghlan is to bring a proposal to the Government to make physical fitness for children and young people a core part of their lives and the school curriculum.

Mr Coghlan and fellow Independent Senators proposed a motion before the House this week which recognised that effective health awareness and physical fitness programme in both primary and secondary schools was “essential for the overall well-being of children”.

Speaking to the motion, Mr Coghlan noted that while there was a new physical education curriculum in place at primary school level since 1999, it was not being implemented in full in 65 per cent of schools.

Mr Coghlan based the figures on responses from 37 schools to a questionnaire he sent to 150 primary and secondary schools in September. Some 35 of 171 schools contacted by letter also attended focus groups.

The Senator said that of the schools who said they were not implementing the physical education curriculum in full, 54 per cent of them cited lack of facilities and 11 per cent cited pressure of time due to competition with other subjects.

Citing figures from other studies, Mr Coghlan noted that overweight and obesity was a serious problem in Ireland and that between 18 per cent and 27 per cent of Irish children were overweight or obese, according to 2007 figures from the Irish Heart Foundation.

The Senator welcomed the presence of Minister for Health James Reilly in the chamber during the debate and said he considered it a “personal endorsement” of the motion.

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