The ‘Healthy Lifestyles’ programme, offered by Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority (ECA) and Manchester City Football Schools UAE, targets children aged between four and eight years Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Up to 3,000 primary school students in 40 Abu Dhabi schools will be enrolled in interactive workshops that teach them about healthy living.

The ‘Healthy Lifestyles’ programme, offered by Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority (ECA) and Manchester City Football Schools UAE, will continue to target children aged between four and eight years, following a successful pilot programme conducted during the previous academic year. Two children and their parents will also have a chance to win a trip to the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, UK, where they can witness one of Manchester City’s key games of the season.

The programme is an integral part of ECA’s World Early Childhood Development (WED) Movement, which aims to offer strategic interventions and tailored programmes that promote and develop the early childhood sector locally and globally. As part of this, Healthy Lifestyles highlights the importance of play, and its pivotal role in the cognitive, physical and behavioural development of young children.

The series of interactive workshops will focus on educating children about the importance of leading a healthy and active lifestyle, including encouraging them to build healthy habits like participation in sports.

‘Healthy Hero’

The programme was this year launched at The Pearl Academy in Abu Dhabi. The launch revealed the inaugural ‘Healthy Hero of the Year’ competition, which will see the partner schools nominate two ‘Healthy Heroes’ - a boy and a girl - who have gone above and beyond to lead and champion a healthier lifestyle throughout the school year. Nominations will be submitted in May 2023, with two winners selected at random from the nominations on World Play Day, May 28, 2023.

Manal Taher, head of the strategic partnerships at the ECA, said: “After last year’s successful pilot, we are excited to see this partnership roll-out on a grander scale for the new academic year. This is something both the schools and children were hungry for and we are pleased to be able to deliver the best results for all participating children.”

She added: “We believe every young child should be healthy, confident, curious, able to learn and develop strong values in a safe and supportive family environment in Abu Dhabi and this programme is a great way to spread that play-centric mandate and encourage our young children and their families to adopt Healthy lifestyles that promote their growth and development.”

Simon Hewitt, senior manager for MENA football operations at City Football Services, said: “Our partnership with ECA and its WED movement, coupled with the popularity of football, allows us to not only motivate the young students we are teaching, but hopefully we can help them inspire their wider community of siblings, parents and caregivers, as well.”