LONDON, January 14 /PRNewswire/ --

The 2008 Fitter Schools UK Challenge, launched today by Fit For Sport and ex-Arsenal and England football hero Ian Wright, is a national initiative designed to help improve children's fitness levels, establish life-long activity habits and make them healthier.

The 2008 Challenge, which is free to enter, is open to all schools including independent schools, specialist sports colleges and SEN schools from Y1 to Y11.

Fit For Sport is confident that the 2008 Challenge will surpass the achievements of the inaugural (2007) Challenge which included:

- 1m school children improved their fitness levels on average by 14.5%

- 3,000 schools participated.

In addition to improving children's fitness levels, winning schools, in the primary and secondary categories, will win thousands of pounds worth of sporting equipment or coaching services. There will also be prizes for the UK's 'Fittest School', as well as the school showing the most improvement over the course of the Challenge.

To help them, participating schools will be provided with 'Challenge Packs' comprising:

- detailed instructions on how to conduct the activities

- lesson ideas

- healthy lifestyle tips.

The packs, which have been developed for both PE and non-PE teachers and feature activities which can be organised by all schools regardless of their existing sports and PE facilities and capabilities. Schools will have up to 14 weeks - depending on when the benchmark assessment is made - to improve the fitness of their pupils.

Although the Challenge programmes focus on children's activity and mobility skills, they have been designed to minimise the traditional stigma associated with physical illiteracy in children of all ages. The emphasis is very much on achievable goals, as well as providing the motivation to help the children sustain an active life beyond the challenge - this includes walking to school rather than getting a lift, walking faster than usual, or even just running the last 100m to the school gates. These small steps are vital to help change the (activity) behaviour of children and help them sustain higher activity levels in their lives.

Commenting at the launch of the 2008 Challenge, Dean Horridge, MD and Founder of Fit For Sport said:"Getting more children, more active is one of the government's and the Prime Minister's major objectives; that is why initiatives like the Fitter Schools Challenge are so important to the long term welfare of our children.

"To paraphrase an old adage, all studying and no play makes Jack and Jill unhealthy children. Children are innately active creatures. However, parental fears of stranger-danger and traffic-danger, combined with lifestyle choices have had profound and long-term implications for our children and our society."

To take part in the 2008 Fitter Schools UK Challenge or, for further information, please call 0845-456-3233 or visit

The 2008 Challenge is sponsored by David Lloyd Leisure and Next Generation Health Clubs.

Media contact: Anna McCreadie +44(0)20-7554-5036/