Adec puts healthy lifestyle in focus

A months-long effort to promote athleticism, competition and active lifestyles among Abu Dhabi emirate’s public schoolchildren ended with an awards ceremony honouring participants on Monday.

ABU DHABI // A months-long effort to promote athleticism, competition and active lifestyles among the emirate’s public schoolchildren ended with an awards ceremony honouring participants on Monday.

Twenty-four schools, 180 pupils, 72 teachers and 24 principals received trophies and medals for their role in promoting Champions of Tomorrow, a sports initiative launched by Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) at the start of the academic year.

“You are our heroes and you will always be our heroes and a model example and source of guidance for other students,” Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, director general of Adec, told the honorees.

The programme, which began in November and ended in April, gave government school pupils a chance to compete beyond the intramural level and challenge their peers at the intercollegiate and regional level.

The campaign involved about 84,244 children – more than 50 per cent of the student body – from all grade levels in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region.

The plan is to eventually extend it to all schools, including private schools, to “discover more promising athletes, teach them the Olympic principles and prepare them for international competitions”, Dr Al Qubaisi said.

She said the aim was to promote a generation of young athletes who could “compete globally”.

The programme included a variety of sports, such as football, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, fencing, judo, handball, basketball and volleyball.

The initiative also included special activities meant to promote sportsmanship and competition within the greater community. Sports Day, held in February, attracted 140,000 pupils, parents, as well as Adec staff.

Among those handing out the award was Thuraya Al Zaabi, the first female Emirati to compete in the Paralympics when she took part in the javelin and shot put events at the 2008 games.

Ms Al Zaabi was a keen runner and a volleyball and basketball player before a stroke left her partially paralysed.

She said: “Sports gave me more confidence and strength. After I became handicapped, I didn’t stop competing, I just took on new sports.

“I always say, without health, you cannot have a good life. Sport is as critical to your health as water.”

Cheri Sanchez, principal of Mubarak bin Mohammed School, praised the emirate’s efforts in enhancing physical education.

“Where I come from, the sports, the music, all of the fine arts, all of these things have been taken out of education. But it’s a focus here,” said Mrs Sanchez, from the United States.

“There’s so much diabetes and obesity in this country that this is a focus on not just sports and competition but also on a healthy lifestyle.

“We won’t have a future if we’re not healthy.”

rpennington@thenational.ae

Published: May 18, 2015 04:00 AM

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