Monday, 5 April 2010

World Health Day 2010

This Wednesday is the World Health Organization's 'World Health Day', with this year's focus being urbanization and health. Living in a city myself I can see the healthy pros and cons to urban living; in many ways we've no reason to be unhealthy with so much going on and so many facilities and activities available to us, but then we've also many a vice to tempt us, in the form of fast food outlets, door step delivery services and a heavy reliance on transport (not to mention the air pollution that comes with it).

Events will be held all over the world, over the next week, from the USA to Africa and beyond, all designed to celebrate and raise awareness of various health issues. Closer to home these include the pedestrianization of two major streets in Galway City with face painting, performance arts and healthy eating options by local restaurants, the City of Sunderland's month long 'Spring into Action' program featuring walks in the city's 10 parks and Liverpool's Cycle for Health event on the 9th of April.

As populations ever increase, as cities become bigger, noisier and more polluted, it's important that we remain focused on the health and well being of our children in particular, to ensure that the future stresses of city living aren't as overwhelming as they get into their teens and adulthood. Unfortunately, no city in Northern Ireland has signed up to stage an event, which is a great shame, so I thought I'd champion a couple of local urban organisations that are themselves working hard to promote health and recreation amongst the young on a consistent, long term basis.

Helena Lavery Yoga First up is Helena's Yoga classes for children and families. Helena runs classes in various areas of Belfast, specially designed to enhance the bond between you and your child through yogic play. Through gentle exercise, flexibility and strength of the body will increase, improving attention span, body awareness, co-ordination and confidence. It's a great way for children who wouldn't necessarily consider themselves 'sporty' to find a healthy and alternative means of keeping fit and get involved in group activities. She will be running a new course of yoga classes at the Namaste Yoga Centre, 265a Ormeau Road, from this Saturday,10 April, for 6 weeks (10.00 - 10.45 am).

It's most suitable for children between the ages of 4 - 7, though there are always exceptions, so please ask.
Helena also runs classes for a number of nurseries and primary schools, designed to help improve concentration and relaxation, in addition to building confidence and working with others. If you would like more information regarding these or any other classes, you can email Helena direct at or visit her website at
PhotobucketNext up is Spider Monkeys, an after school care and martial arts club that combats the double issues of what to do with your children if you can't always be there for them when schools out, and how to get your kids involved in sports that promote not just health and fitness, but also discipline and new skills. They teach primarily Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and circus skills, in a safe but fun environment that includes games and group activities. Coaches Caoimhe and James are experienced in childcare and abide by Children (NI) Order 1995 and Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (NI) Order 2003. They boast a wealth of national and international titles between them, in multiple disciplines, meaning that quite literally, your kids couldn't be in safer hands. For more information go to

Last, but certainly not least, while not a children's project, I'd like to give a special mention to the work currently being done by the East Belfast Mission with with their Healthy Food For All project. Aimed at hostel residents under the EBM jurisdiction, the project has received funding for the next three years to provide twice weekly evening meals, in addition to giving advice and information on the benefits of nutrition and a healthy diet, particularly for those on a budget. Coupled with the food provided through the Mission Cafe and Meals on Wheels Service, the mission is currently providing an invaluable service to the local community and deserves some recognition. To find out more and to learn about the EBM visit

1 comment:

  1. Took the Bethster to one of Helena's Family Yoga classes today and she loved it. We'll definitely be heading again.