Hundreds of schoolchildren across West Yorkshire will get a special visit from Featherstone Rovers in the new year.
First team players will kickstart a healthy heart campaign in areas with the highest levels of obesity among young adults and children.
Primary schools in Featherstone, Airedale, Ferry Fryston and Knottingley will be visited by the team thanks to a £9,910 Healthy Heart Grant from Yorkshire-based national charity, Heart Research UK.
The ‘Kick Start Your Heart’ community programme aims to improve the health of pupils aged between seven and 11-years-old.
Levels of overweight and obesity in children and adults in these areas are the highest for the district.
Around 30 per cent of Year 6 pupils are obese compared with the 14 per cent district average.
Around 34 per cent of adults are smokers, compared with 20 per cent in the district.
The programme will reach more than 700 pupils, as well as parents, through a series of visual props, puzzles and physical activities.
Laurabeth Jaggar, head of community development at the Featherstone Rovers Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Heart Research UK to deliver this practical and creative Healthy Heart project.
“Our aim is to engage pupils with lifestyle messages they will never forget and with the help of professional rugby players from Featherstone Rovers, I’m sure it will be a great success.”
Barbara Harpham, national director at Heart Research UK, said: “It’s great to see local role models helping the community and getting involved in spreading the ‘Healthy Heart’ message.
“Children need to be educated about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and projects like this are a great way of focusing on heart health in a fun and interactive way.”
Craig Poskitt, Featherstone Rovers chief executive said: “We are thankful for the support and enthusiasm Heart Research UK has shown us.
“Our community department does some excellent work in our local community and our players have established a strong reputation in engaging with local school children.
“We are looking forward to delivering this important project.”
Mr Poskitt added: “I am also pleased we are engaging with schools not only in Featherstone but also Castleford and Knottingley which face similar healthy lifestyle issues and further promote Featherstone Rovers to the wider community.”