Sports stars get on board to promote fitness for kids

Over 300 children braved the wet weather on Thursday to take part in the second annual Physical Activity and Nutrition Expo at the Faleula Methodist Compound.

The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) put on the event, inviting stars from various sporting organisations along to share their codes with children from 23 different primary schools.

Among them were Mary Opeloge from weightlifting and Steffi Carruthers from tennis. Nobesity Samoa were also on hand raising awareness and advocating for balanced, healthier diets.

Assistant Chief Executive Officer (A.C.E.O.) of the Health Sector Coordination, Resourcing and Monitoring (H.S.C.R.M.) Division of the M.O.H. Gaualofa Matalavea Saaga said the Expo was a success despite the rain.

 “The kids, it was their fun day today, just to enjoy themselves and hear the messages. This is a much more energetic way of pushing the message through,” she said.

She said the Expo is a way to combat the current NCD (non-communicable disease) epidemic at the foundation level.

 “It’s the best age to act, and we can make parents part of it too. If we can change even 10-20 people’s lives with this that’s a big outcome.”

Gaualofa said the link between sport and health is obvious. 

 “Stars like weightlifter Mary Opeloge and tennis player Steffi Carruthers, they all came today to embrace the theme of healthy living, healthy lifestyles through our children.”

She said having that caliber of talent get involved can only help awareness by setting an example for young people.

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 “Put yourselves in the shoes of a child, they see these local stars in the newspapers and on TV, but to see them physically is something else.”

Gaualofa says seeing the stars in person can be really inspirational for the children.

 “The sports organisations are great at getting in behind it.

 “It’s expanding, with S.A.S.N.O.C. (Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee) and the tennis and boxing here as well this year.”

M.O.H. has already directed that next year the Expo will take place in Savaii.

Gaualofa said they need to ensure the message is captured by the whole country.

 “We need to bombard the children with these health messages.

 “Last year we did the urban area, this time rural schools.”

This year’s Expo covered the districts of Vaimauga, Faleata, Aana 1 and Aana 2.

Gaualofa said the Expo also benefits the sports organisations involved.

 “This year bringing tennis, rugby league to rural areas gives kids a chance to try things they wouldn’t get to otherwise.

 “The superstars are out there, we just need to tap their potential and they can thrive.”

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