Olympic Champion backs Schools Health Challenge

Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger has given her backing to more than 400 Aberdeen schoolchildren taking part in an initiative which encourages young people to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

One of Scotland’s leading athletes, Katherine was awarded a CBE following her triumph in the double sculls at London 2012. She is also a three-time Olympic silver medallist and a six-time World Champion rower.

The Magma Products Schools Health Challenge – believed to be the first event of its kind in Scotland – was launched in September with four schools in the Bucksburn area taking part in the first year.

It is currently open to all Primary 5, 6 and 7 pupils from Brimmond School, Kingswells School and Stoneywood School and all Secondary 1 and 2 pupils at Bucksburn Academy. If well received, there are plans to roll out the initiative to more city schools by autumn 2014.

The project has previously been supported by football legend Sir Alex Ferguson and Aberdeen Football Club captain Russell Anderson. Now Katherine is backing the efforts made by participating pupils to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

She said: “The work being done through the Schools Health Challenge is absolutely brilliant, particularly teaching young people in Aberdeen the great benefits of leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

“It’s to the huge credit of the pupils involved that this initiative has got off to such an encouraging start and I’m sure they will keep this impressive level of commitment throughout the rest of the school year.”

The Magma Products Schools Health Challenge encourages participating pupils to record when they have been physically active and also compete in a variety of different physical activity and healthy eating challenges during each school term.

As part of the first challenge, pupils were encouraged to drink 1.5 litres of water every day. They were also asked to swim or row, as part of a team, a distance equivalent to the length of the River Dee over nine weeks between September and November.

The second challenge, which will run from Monday, January 27 for six weeks, will see pupils at each school take part in a series of Commonwealth Games sporting activities, including athletics, aquatics, badminton, gymnastics and netball. They will also be asked to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

Katherine added: “Admittedly, I am a little biased but I’m especially pleased to see the pupils at Bucksburn Academy taking up the rowing challenge. Who knows, perhaps some of them will be inspired to take the sport to an international level after this experience. How exciting would that be!”

Graeme Dale, senior development manager for Active Schools at Sport Aberdeen, said: “We’re delighted that Katherine has taken time out of her busy schedule to support the pupils involved in the initiative. She is a wonderful role model, having achieved so much success in her career to date – not least the gold medal she won in London.

“We’ve had tremendous support from all of the schools involved in the first year and we’re confident that the challenge will continue to go from strength to strength.”

The Schools Health Challenge is sponsored by Magma Products, an Aberdeen-based oil and gas engineering consultancy, and is organised by Sport Aberdeen, in partnership with local schools and the city council.

Points scored by each individual pupil are recorded on a weekly basis throughout the year with prizes on offer each week for the best performing class in each school. These results are regularly monitored by designated staff and/or senior pupils and can be tracked online at a dedicated website: www.sportaberdeen.co.uk/magma-products-schools-health-challenge.