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In Collaboration with ADEK and In Partnership with SHF Department of Health kicks off 'Healthy Champions' an innovative educational experience for School Students in Abu Dhabi

1 May, 2019: The Department of Health—Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of healthcare sector in Abu Dhabi, has launched the pilot phase of "Healthy Champions" an innovative educational experience, which targets school students between the ages 10-13 years. The experience is aimed to equip the students with the knowledge and understanding to make informed choices about the food and drink they consume and the physical activity they engage in.

"Healthy Champions" was developed as a joint effort between DoH, Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and in partnership with the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation (SHF).

The pilot phase kicked off today at Al Raha International School, which was the first stop in the scheduled series of visits to schools in Abu Dhabi. The launch ceremony was attended by H.E Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of DoH, H.E. Sara Musallam, Chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, Angela Migally, Executive Director of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and senior representatives from ADEK and SHF.

Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of Department of Health Abu Dhabi commented, "As part of its ongoing efforts to promote prevention and the wellness of the community, DoH continues to work towards its vision of 'A Healthier Abu Dhabi' by introducing campaigns that serve to build community awareness. To that end, DoH worked closely with ADEK to develop an experience that will entertain and equip children with the knowledge and understanding they need to make more informed choices about their food and drink intake and physical activity levels."

H.E Al Hamed added, "There is a growing risk of developing chronic lifestyle-related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases in youth. This is primarily linked to modern lifestyle changes characterised by excessive technology use, inactive lifestyle and excessive eating. The immersive health champions experience seeks to engage students in unconventional ways, utilising multi-sensory gaming to teach them about health in a realistic, fun and memorable way."

"Healthy Champions" is a 40-minute experience, where participants rotate between five individual activity stations that aim to engage students through fun and innovative games while learning about different aspects of healthy eating and physical activity. The five stations themes are 'Best Lunch Ever', 'Super Shopper', 'Hidden Sugar Detective', 'Fitness Rescue' and 'Calorie Terminator'.

H.E. Sara Musallam, Chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), praised the initiative 'Healthy Champions' innovative educational experience which aims to encourage youth to opt for healthy lifestyle choices free from diseases. Ms. Musallam described health as being "a blessing from Allah almighty, granted to a person in order to live a healthy and happy life."

She said: "This innovative initiative seeks to reach out to students in a non-conventional manner, through sending out proper medical advice and guidance via fun and effective games and methods."

Her Excellency further added that the values and initiatives adopted by the Department of Health in continuing to thrive towards building a strong and healthy generation, and their perseverance on promoting the proper culture related to healthy eating habits and physical activities amongst youth, serves as a platform towards a bright and healthy society, one that is capable of concentrating and producing. "Being healthy is un-doubtfully related to the overall happiness of a society that safeguards future generations."

"A healthy person who is free from diseases and follows healthy lifestyle habits, is the one who enjoys life the most, since it is that person who is capable of serving himself, his family and society in the best of his capabilities."

ADEK's Chairperson went on to further say that ADEK continues to emphasize the importance of protecting future generations from various diseases and preventing unhealthy lifestyle exposures, and seeks reaching its goal to create a well-equipped, healthy and happy generation, who is capable of producing and developing the nation as aspired by our prudent and wise leadership.

"A school is not meant to encourage academic education alone, it has multiple roles including health awareness and ensuring students remain physically active and fit in their day-to-day lives."

H.E. stressed on the importance of continuing to encourage cooperation between ADEK and the Department of Health, and the need to unite to best benefit the nation, since it is through such strategic partnerships and initiatives that a nation can achieve its vision. ADEK is delighted to support various government entities and departments that aim to achieve leadership's vision in best serving the nation.

Ms. Musallam concluded that this initiative will result in a huge shift by the Grace of Allah, for our beloved students.

Angela Migally, Executive Director of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation said: "The Foundation is honored to have served as a creative collaborator with the DoH and ADEK in the development of Healthy Champions. The launch of this 1-year pilot program represents an important milestone in the development of this innovative public health initiative, and we look forward to witnessing the contribution that it can make to the long-term health of children in Abu Dhabi."

The 'Best Lunch Ever' station emphasizes the importance of eating a well-balanced diet that includes the right mix of foods. This is done through interactive screens that engage students in creating a well-balanced healthy meal. The 'Super Shopper' station included an immersive shopping experience that encourages students to consider daily servings when scanning food items into their grocery cart, so it adds up to the recommended daily servings. This station introduces the concept of daily recommended servings and demonstrates that quantity is as important as quality of food.

To raise awareness on high sugar content in drinks, the 'Hidden Sugar Detective' station challenges students to rank drink items based on what they think has high or low sugar levels, to promote awareness on how much sugar is contained in many popular drinks and identifies water as the best way to hydrate naturally. . Students are up for a physical challenge on the Fitness Rescue, where they completed a series of exercises as part of an interactive game in which they score higher by advancing their fitness levels starting from 'couch potato' level reaching to 'healthy athlete'. This station reveals the health benefits of regular exercise. Finally, on the Calorie Terminator station, students learn the importance of maintaining balance between energy intake (ie. food) with energy burned through exercise. Students will become aware that proper food choices often equate to calorie overload as opposed to healthier choices.

The 'Healthy Champions' experience is scheduled to be piloted in three other schools in Abu Dhabi. The participating schools are Hamdan Bin Zayed School, Yas School and Brighton College Abu Dhabi.

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