Basketball stars are helping to promote the importance of health and fitness among schoolchildren.
The Newcastle Eagles have joined forces with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to deliver its Hoops for Health community programme, working with youngsters across North Tyneside and Northumberland.
Professional players will be working with hundreds of schoolchildren, aged between nine and 11, to support the Trust’s health improvement activity and develop artwork for the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital due to open in Cramlington in 2015.
This is the first time Newcastle Eagles have worked with a major NHS hospital trust to spread messages about the importance of exercise, healthy eating and advice on the dangers of smoking.
The Hoops for Health programme will also feature an arts competition where pupils will have the chance to develop ideas for artwork to be displayed in the short-stay paediatric facility at the new hospital.
Andrea Stoker, general manager at the trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Newcastle Eagles to help engage children about living a healthy lifestyle.
“Our community arts project will give young people across our area the chance to really shape the look and feel of artwork in the new paediatric facility and also share their ideas about what images would make them feel safe and calm if they needed to stay in hospital.”
Fabulous Flournoy, player coach at Newcastle Eagles, added: “Our partnership with Northumbria is all about teaching young people the importance of physical activity and eating a balanced diet so they can lead healthy lifestyles, stay fit and well and hopefully avoid any circumstances where they might need hospital care.
“As professional sporting role models it is often easier for us to connect with children to relay these important messages.
“We’re delighted that the programme this year will also get young people involved with artwork ideas for the paediatric facility at the hospital – a fantastic new state-of the-art facility which will serve them, and their families, for many years to come.”
The basketball team also unveiled lifesaving defibrillators as part of a campaign supported by a Cramlington family who lost a relative to sudden cardiac arrest.
Christine Stephenson and Kelly Best are backing Arrhythmia Alliance’s Hearts & Goals campaign, in memory of Christine’s brother and Kelly’s husband, Neil Best, who died aged 32 after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest at his Dudley home.
In June the family launched the first defibrillator at Fordley Primary School, with the help of Newcastle and England football legend Peter Beardsley. And after securing a £4,200 grant from Procter & Gamble Seaton Delaval they have secured automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for four more schools.
Longbenton Community College, Seaton Burn College, Tyne Metropolitan College and Northumberland Church of England Academy are the latest to benefit from an AED. The Eagles unveiled the lifesaving devices at Tyne Metropolitan College.