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Gainsborough Primary Schools Dance To Their Hearts Content

Gainsborough Extended School Services are giving primary schools in the area dance mats to motivate pupils to get active. To improve the quality of PE and sport undertaken by young people, the Government launched the PE and Sport Strategy for Young People (PESSYP) which aims to create a 'five hour offer' for 5-16 year olds - two hours of PE and sport at school and a further three hours of after-school sport each week. Gainsborough Extended School Services is leading the way by joining forces with fitnessgaming (www.fitnessgaming.co.uk) and offering pupils an activity that will engage and excite them.

Extended School Services help to deliver the aims of Every Child Matters, a Government initiative calling for all organisations involved in providing services to children and young people to work together towards five key outcomes: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being. Gainsborough Extended School Services have introduced the dance mats to be used in after school clubs to engage with young children who may otherwise feel uncomfortable with physical exercise.

Amber Treece, Gainsborough Extended School Services, commented: "We introduced the dance mats to engage those pupils who do not currently enjoy other physical activities. In order to engage our young people in Gainsborough and get them to join in with after schools clubs, we needed a physical activity that would appeal to their out-of-school interests. This type of activity is perfect for Extended Schools Services because it crosses all ages and genders so all pupils can play against each other regardless of their abilities. This way, they get fit and healthy without even thinking about it."

Duncan Black, Director at fitnessgaming, comments: "A key part of involving all young people in sport and PE is engaging with those who do not currently want to take part in traditional physical activities, such as cross-country, hockey or netball. Sport needs to move with the times and embrace activities that are more suited to today's youth, making sport and fitness something they enjoy and not something to be avoided. Although advances in technology and computer games are often blamed for children staying indoors and avoiding exercise, there are new and innovative ways of using this technology to engage children in sporting activities. The benefits can extend beyond the lunchtime and after school clubs as the schools are providing an example to pupils' parents, proving that gaming can be active and beneficial for their family's health. By dancing with their children at home, parents can replace the stereotype of the inactive couch potato child sat at their games console for hours on end, with an image of gaming as healthy, whole family fun."

The Cobalt Flux 'Just for Schools' dance mats can be used with all major games consoles and PC's, including the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii, which makes them easy to set up and a more affordable alternative for schools compared to other expensive proprietary systems. A three-sided frame and a hand-controlled mat are available for pupils with special needs so the whole class can get involved.

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