A Donegal school, Scoil Na Croise Naofa, Dunfanaghy, has been chosen ‘Ireland’s Fittest School’.
The award went to the primary school in recognition of what adjudicators called ‘a culture of fitness evident throughout the school’, following its participation in a competition in which over 500 primary schools north and south took part.
Launched last November, the six-months long initiative – fronted by well-known Irish Olympians, athletes Phil Healy and David Gillick and organised by banana distributors Fyffes – had the goal of adding focus to the importance of exercise, fitness and healthy eating amongst young people.
In part, its purpose was to supplement and maintain the momentum built-up under the three-years-long Fyffes ‘Fit Squad’ programme of school visits in which, until the outbreak of Covid forced its deferral, more than 20,000 young primary-age pupils across Ireland had engaged.
A central feature was a series of exercise routines devised and recorded online by Olympians Healy and Gillick which competing schools could adopt as part of their PE curriculum and against which performance could be measured.
The award to the Dunfanaghy school will comprise some €5,000 worth of sports equipment to be chosen by the school plus a visit from athletes Healy and Gillick on dates yet to be arranged.
Thanking Fyffes Fit Squad for ‘providing the opportunity for schools to engage in physical activity in such a thoroughly enjoyable manner’, Mary O’Donnell, teacher at Scoil Na Croise Naofa, congratulated the children, teachers, staff and parents for all their ‘efforts and commitment’.
“Each month’s challenge generated great excitement, and every child strived to partake in the activities. The Fyffes initiative was fun, inclusive and rewarding for our entire school community,” she added.
Responding, Fyffes head of marketing, Emma Hunt-Duffy praised the level of interest that the competition generated amongst schools across the country.
She added “Really encouraging was the vast number of teachers and young pupils who incorporated the exercise routines in their PE classes, seeing them as a fun and easy way to stay active and keep fit”.