Iftah Ya Simsim in health campaign

Education and health authorities have enlisted characters from the Arabic version of Sesame Street to promote healthy living habits in children.

ABU DHABI // Education and health authorities have enlisted characters from the Arabic version of Sesame Street to promote healthy living habits in children.

The Abu Dhabi Education Council, Health Authority Abu Dhabi and Bidaya Media, the producers of Iftah Ya Simsim, have produced a series of songs, short music videos, activity and story books to teach the youngsters.

The authorities on Monday announced the launch of their Iftah Ya Simsim health education initiative at the Mubarak bin Mohammed School.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in non-communicable diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes in addition to a number of chronic diseases correlated with unhealthy lifestyles,” said Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, chairman of Haad and acting director general of the Adec.

“Based on this, we consider initiatives that are designed to raise public health awareness among our children a top priority”

Public school children up to Grade 5 will be given a kit containing a 23-page coloured activity book, four storybooks, one teacher’s manual and one parent’s guide to help them learn how to brush their teeth, wash their hands, exercise and eat healthy meals and snacks.

The songs and video clips will also be broadcast on radio, television and cinema adverts and shared on social media.

"When we heard about Sesame Street, we thought it was a great opportunity to use their characters to pass our messages to the kids in a nice and friendly way," said Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, Haad's director of public health and research.

“The messages are very simple: eat right, get active, wash your teeth and make sure that you brush them properly and follow good general hygiene.”

According to Haad, only about 27 per cent of children are active for 60 minutes or longer a day.

“This health education programme will inevitably contribute to our goal of achieving a 30 per cent increase in this number by 2030,” said Dr Maha Barakat, director general of Haad.

rpennington@thenational.ae

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