Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has welcomed a proposal by Ulster GAA and the IFA for a new three year Schools Sports Programme which is based on the hugely successful Curriculum Sports Programme. 

Mr McNulty explained, "This week the Education Committee heard of a proposal from Ulster GAA and IFA which is currently with Minister Peter Weir for consideration and approval.  The programme would be delivered over three years in primary schools and it would seek to build on the hugely successful Curriculum Sports Programme which was previously cut due to lack of funds.

Education Minister Peter Weir on a visit to St Comgall’s Primary School in Bangor
Education Minister Peter Weir on a visit to St Comgall’s Primary School in Bangor

"Now more than ever before we need to invest in the physical and emotional wellbeing of our young people who have been impacted so much by the Coronavirus Health Pandemic.  We need to encourage young people to look after and maintain their health and well being and this programme is about encouraging children to maintain a fit, healthy and active lifestyle."

"All the evidence shows that taking part in sport and maintaining an active lifestyle from an early age doesn’t just benefit a child’s physical wellbeing, it positively influences their mental health, as well as their emotional and character development.” 

Justin McNulty MLA

The Newry and Armagh representative added "I cannot overstate the value of this programme to our young people and the vital role the high calibre coaches play in not only embedding a culture of physical activity and teamwork, but also their role in delivering important life lessons through the medium of sport.

"This week’s presentation to the Education Committee was timely and I hope that the Education Minister will be able to sign off on a funding package in the region of £2.5million which would see the programme delivered over three years."

Pupils aged 7-11

The Sports Programme, focusing on pupils aged 7 to 11, promotes the benefits of participating in sport and physical activity and encourages pupils to develop a lifelong interest in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. It also helps students increase their emotional resilience and has a particular focus on boosting sporting participation among girls.

The programme has also been praised by Education Minister, Peter Weir who said " “Children’s wellbeing is fundamentally important and central to all I do. The link between physical health and the wellbeing of young people is well-known. It is pleasing to see at first hand how this initiative helps pupils learn about mental health and wellbeing, including resilience and self-esteem.

“I recognise the contribution sport makes, not only in terms of its physical benefits, but also in raising the confidence of young people. That is why my Department has invested significantly in sports coaching provided by the IFA and Ulster GAA to support PE in primary schools.”

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