Olympic swimmer Ellen Walshe and Sports Minister, Thomas Byrne, with pupils of Rathregan National School in Batterstown. PHOTO: Seb Daly/Sportsfile.

Byrne welcomes new Olympic initiative to get schools more physically active

Rathregan National School took centrestage last week when the nationwide Olympic Movement Breaks programme was formally launched by Sports Minister, Thomas Byrne.

The initiative will see the Olympic Federation of Ireland's ‘Dare to Believe’ programme working alongside the Active School Flag Programme in creating exciting opportunities for primary school pupils to be more physically active.

Minister Byrne joined Irish Olympians, swimmer, Ellen Walshe and Rugby Sevens Captain, Harry McNulty, and the students and staff of Rathregan NS to launch Olympic Movement Breaks.

Minister Byrne said: “I am delighted to officially launch the nationwide Olympic Movement Breaks programme with the Olympic Federation of Ireland here in Batterstown, Co Meath.

“It is great to see the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Dare to Believe Programme and the Active School Flag Programme working together to address the challenges of decreasing levels of physical activity among our youth. It shows what can be done when Government and agencies work together for a common goal.”

He said the Olympic Movement Breaks have been developed to encourage primary schools to get involved in the Active Break Every Day Challenge, held annually by the Active School Flag Programme.

“I am determined to see more schools, more active, more often and the Olympic Movement Breaks will certainly support schools in this ambition in a fun and inclusive way.

“Building movement opportunities, such as these, in to the school day creates positive impacts for our primary school pupil’s physical health and mental wellbeing, it also brings benefits to the teaching and learning processes. I would encourage all schools in Meath and around the country to take part in this initiative and I look forward to hearing about school experiences in this fun and exciting challenge.”

The Olympic Movement Breaks are an easy-to-use format, with a series of short videos led by Olympians and High-Performance athletes demonstrating fun exercises and activities that can be done by students of all abilities. The short videos, across a variety of different sports including athletics, boxing, rugby sevens, swimming, breakdancing, and para powerlifting, will help generate classroom-based movement opportunities.

Regular movement for children brings many benefits to the teaching and learning process, and following these high-performance athletes is a great way for young people to see some of the athletes who will represent Ireland in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games next summer.

Teachers will have access to a challenge chart where they can check off videos that their class completes each day during the four-week challenge, which runs from Monday, 13th of November through to Friday, 8th of December.