Ji shows health is Heart of the Game

by Foundation of Light

Korean star backs health initiative.

Sunderland AFC’s Korean international Ji Dong-Won joined more than 40 South Tyneside youngsters to officially launch Heart of the Game, a local health programme designed to educate more than 1,500 young people about the importance of heart health.

Heart of the Game, supported Heart Research UK, will run in every Primary School in South Tyneside with more than 1,560 individual participants attending 560 sessions. The programme also includes family activities, meaning the positive messages are transmitted into the home environment as well as the school setting.

The Black Cats striker participated in a range of education and physical/coaching sessions developed and delivered by Foundation of Light staff alongside pupils from Jarrow Cross CofE School, which gave them an early insight into the issues that will be covered during the 10-week course. The children then boarded the Foundation of Light Active Bus, sponsored by Arriva, which gives participants a ‘Health MOT’, measuring information such as heart rate, body fat, BMI and other health indicators.

Rob Grainey, Heart of the Game tutor said: “Heart of the Game links into the curriculum and we tailor the learning to each group. It’s all about giving them knowledge they can pass on. At the end of the programme they demonstrate this and transfer what they have learned into their school lessons as well.

“The children learn some really important things but do so in a fun way. They don’t really notice how much you’re mixing science with PE and that’s what attracted Heart Research UK and the school, who have been so impressed by the programme.”

Participants will also be signposted onto additional Foundation of Light activities and existing South Tyneside health initiatives.

Barbara Harpham, National Director at Heart Research UK, said:  “This is the second grant we have given to the Foundation of Light because the first one was so good. They deliver the message well and give good targets to the children.

“The most important thing though is they get kids’ hearts beating quicker through exercise such as football and teach them at the same time why they should be active, what can go wrong with your heart and how to keep it healthy. You can teach people exercise, but you’ve got to teach them why. The best ways of keeping your heart healthy are exercise, eating healthily and not smoking and these are the three messages Heart of the Game gives to kids.”

Speaking about the initiative, Ji Dong-Won added: “As a footballer I know how vitally important it is to keep your heart healthy – and this is something that has been highlighted only recently by what happened to Fabrice Muamba. It’s fantastic to see children engage in such an important subject and hopefully the knowledge they gain from the programme will benefit them greatly because it is something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Heart Research UK is a pioneering national charity which has funded cutting edge and innovative medical research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease for more than 45 years – as well as supporting healthy lifestyle projects such as Heart of the Game.