HUDDERSFIELD Giants mascot Big G is helping kick off a new health campaign in Spen.
The campaign follows the shocking headlines in the Spenborough Guardian last October showing soaring childhood obesity rates in the Spen Valley.
Figures showed that one in three children was overweight and 11 per cent of four-year-olds were obese.
Now, Legacy Sport – based at Spen Valley Sports College – has brought together several partners in a bid to reverse the trend and deliver healthy messages to young people and their parents.
Shaun Fox from Legacy Sport said: “Seeing those headlines was shocking, it was a stark message and we decided we had to do something to address this horrendous situation.
“It’s not something we can change overnight, but by getting together interested parties we can all work together to have an impact and change people’s habits by encouraging them to eat more healthily and take more exercise.”
A working party has been set up including Legacy Sport, Huddersfield Giants, Howarths Employment Law, PJs Health and Fitness Village, and the Spenborough Guardian.
The result is the Great Spen Valley Health Challenge which holds its first major event this month at the Sports College.
“We have already made a start by going into schools and delivering our message, and the Huddersfield Giants are also very pro-active in getting a healthy lifestyle message across in their school visits,” said Shaun.
“But the big event will be a year five Olympic Challenge at the sports college on June 22 when 350 children from nine feeder schools will compete in 10 different activities run by Legacy staff and young leaders from the sports college.
“Big G will be leading by example, when he walks the pupils from Roberttown School down to the event.
“The children will represent an Olympic country and compete in teams. It will culminate in an Olympic-style presentation with medals and they will all receive a goodie bag.
“In between the activities there will be rest stops manned by Huddersfield Giants, Howarths and the Kirklees MEND and FINE teams, all delivering healthy messages in a fun way.
“We’re under no illusion that we face a massive challenge, but we hope that in 12 months time we will have gone from those shocking headlines to showing a huge improvement, and we can say that we started making a difference in 2012.”