Health problems, obesity and unhealthy eating patterns are issues facing many people today, including many children.

Statistics show that around one in three British children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. Individuals who are obese as children have a higher risk of becoming obese adults and suffering from related problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The evidence also suggests that children are not getting enough exercise, with only around a fifth of UK kids hitting recommended levels of physical activity.

The north east especially seems beset by these problems, with around two thirds of people in the region overweight or obese, the highest rate in England.

Schools in Sunderland, however, are fighting back against the flab, by signing up to a programme to boost the health and wellbeing of their pupils.

The Great Active Sunderland School Charter recognises and celebrates schools that encourage their pupils to live healthier lives. Schools commended by the charter promote sports activities and physical exercise and act as a focus for the wellbeing of their local communities.

And now more than 70 schools across Wearside have been praised for the work they’ve done to make their pupils healthier.

Cllr John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture, said, “The Great Active Sunderland School Charter is an innovative accreditation scheme developed to recognise the hard work schools put in towards the city’s commitment to healthier lifestyles in young people.”

“I would like to take this opportunity not only to thank but also to congratulate all the schools taking part in this fantastic programme and encourage all schools across the city to take part.”

The Great Active Sunderland School Charter, which launched in 2015, has silver, gold and bronze categories. These recognise the length of commitment and the levels of achievement attained by the different schools participating in the scheme.

All the schools that take part in the programme receive a commemorative plaque to celebrate their achievement.

Louise Farthing, the council’s cabinet member for children, learning and skills, said, “We are committed to providing children and young people in our city with all the opportunities and support that we can to help in their individual personal development, and this charter to promote health and well-being through physical activity and sport is part of that continuing process in our schools.”

A number of ‘outstanding schools’ have achieved the gold standard for three years running. These schools are Albany Village, Barnwell, Dame Dorothy, East Herrington, East Rainton, English Martyrs, North View, Redby, Rickleton, Shiney Row, Southwick, St Paul’s, Valley Road and Wessington.

Teachers from Diamond Hall Infant Academy, Hudson Road Primary School and Ryhope Infant School Academy with their awards

Some of the initiatives introduced by the schools include running a mile per day, Change 4 Life clubs, after-school activities and sports clubs, and sports leadership training for youngsters.

Jill Colbert, the chief executive of Together for Children (a company established by the council to deliver children’s services), said, “The School Charter has quickly developed a proven track record to showcase a school’s achievements regarding PE, sport and its role in the community, and we are very proud to support it.”

Marisol Bowman, a PE teacher at Columbia Grange School in Washington, said, “This programme is an outstanding opportunity for our school to promote and improve the health and wellbeing of pupils.”

“As a school committed to physical wellbeing, we are so proud to achieve the highest award again this year and are already working towards achieving our third consecutive gold in 2019.”

(The featured image shows children from Redby Academy, along with PE teacher Mr Phil Kitching, receiving their gold award.)

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