New programme to revolutionise PE classes

By June Shannon Obesity News   |   3rd Oct 2018

The Irish Heart Foundation and DCU have launched a new schools-based PE programme which is set to revolutionise how PE is taught in Ireland.

Research has shown that children are reaching secondary school in Ireland never having learned to throw, catch or kick a ball and as result are less likely to engage in or enjoy school PE classes.

To address this, the Irish Heart Foundation and Dublin City University (DCU) have developed a new way of delivering PE called Y-PATH PE 4 Me, which aims to revolutionise the way the subject is taught in Irish secondary schools.

Traditional PE classes have in the past been criticised for over-emphasising competitive activities and mandatory participation in team sports that not everyone enjoys. This traditional approach can alienate inactive young people making them less likely to enjoy and take part in physical activity in school. PE teachers in Ireland have long been moving away from this approach.

Y-PATH PE 4 ME was developed to support PE teachers who want to make their subject less competitive and more child centred, with the aim of encouraging students of all abilities to take part in and enjoy PE again. Central to this approach is that students are given a choice and a say in which activities they would like to do.

With individual feedback, Y-PATH PE 4 ME supports each student to feel confident to participate in and enjoy physical activity. The goal is to ensure that everyone can find an activity they like, can take part in and enjoy.

Y-PATH PE 4 ME was developed to support PE teachers who want to make their subject less competitive and more child centred


Y-PATH PE 4 ME is a completely free, Irish programme for physical activity designed by PE teachers for PE teachers. Delivered through the PE module in the school curriculum, it is backed by eight years of Irish research.

Delivered through a method of blended learning using a mixture of online and face to face training Y-PATH PE 4 ME provides PE teachers with access to a range of resources such as the Y-PATH pack which includes lesson plans, digital materials, posters, student journals and assessments.

Coupled with encouraging physical activity, Y-PATH PE 4 ME will also provide nutritional information and materials to support the engagement of all teachers in the school. It also includes information for parents to help them understand how they can help their children get more active and improve their health.

The programme was developed in response to research by Dr Sarah Jane Belton, School of Health and Human Performance, DCU which found that just one in five children aged 12-15 in Ireland were getting enough physical activity; one in every four were overweight or obese and fewer than one in 100 had mastered basic fundamental movement skills such as running, jumping, catching, throwing and kicking a ball. These are skills which children should usually master around the age of six or seven. The research also found that young people who were not active did not understand the importance of regular physical activity for their health.

Low levels of physical activity are a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

"Y-PATH PE 4 ME is an ideal opportunity to support children, their teachers and parents to reverse the declining rates of physical activity we see in our teenagers today,"

Laura Hickey, Children and Young People Programme Manager, , Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting on the programme Laura Hickey, Irish Heart Foundation Children and Young People Programme Manager, said: “Only 12 per cent of children and young people are meeting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day. The consequences for their future health are grave: at the Irish Heart Foundation we are already seeing the early signs of heart disease in children as young as eight years old.

“Almost one third of children in Ireland are now overweight. One in 10 boys and one in 11 girls are obese. The Irish Heart Foundation is committed to tackling childhood obesity through a range of measures. Y-PATH PE 4 ME is an ideal opportunity to support children, their teachers and parents to reverse the declining rates of physical activity we see in our teenagers today.

Y-PATH PE 4 ME is a unique new programme which supports teenagers to become physically active at their own pace, find what they like and what they’re good at, all while increasing their movement skills, confidence and understanding of physical activity and how this relates to their health. By doing this, the programme has been shown to increase physical activity levels with the hope of developing lifelong healthy behaviours.

We’re very excited to start rolling this programme out in the coming months. We’ll be holding training sessions for teachers around the country starting this week and running through we’re encouraging PE teachers to visit our website, find out more and sign up to get involved.”

Please see here for more information and to register for a Y-PATH PE 4 ME training session.



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