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Ballynahinch High launch the first outdoor gym in a post-primary school

Physical education at a Co Down school is reaching a whole new level with the launch of the first outdoor gym in a post-primary school in Northern Ireland.

Commissioned by the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB), Ballynahinch High School is the first of five post-primary schools to have the new facility, in a total i£200,000 nvestment by the board.

Installed by Garden Escapes, in partnership with the Great Outdoor Gym Company, Ireland, they will be the largest outdoor gyms in the country, offering pupils of all physical abilities the opportunity to further learn and practice PE outdoors, before, during and after school.

The 22-piece gym located on-site provides a great work-out, surrounded by fresh air and doesn’t cost a penny to use.

Speaking at the launch of the facility, Roger Sayers, head of property and planning services at the SEELB, said:

“We are committed to raising the standards of learning and levels of achievement of the young people in our area and what we have here is an innovative and fun way in which pupils of all ages can benefit from a wide range of physical activities.”

Richard Stuart, managing director of TGO Ireland, said he was delighted to be launching the new facility - especially as it is in his home town.

“Never before has there been such a focus on health and well-being with the interest in outdoor exercise being at an all-time high – especially in children and young adults.

“Physical inactivity causes more deaths than obesity – only smoking, high blood pressure and high blood glucose are responsible for greater mortality.

“The South Eastern Education and Library Board is to be commended for tackling this problem head on, and we look forward to working with the children to educate them on how to use the machines on a regular basis and integrate physical activity into their school day.”

Ex-Ireland and Ulster Rugby player Andy Ward, who also runs a gym in Ballynahinch, was on-hand to support the new facility.

He said, “I am thrilled to be involved in today’s launch and feel certain that this will set the trend throughout the rest of the country.

“The health benefits of exercise and the great outdoors are undisputed and this gives the pupils of The High School Ballyhaninch the opportunity to learn about physical education in new surroundings whilst allowing them to increase their fitness levels.”

Priory Integrated College, Glastry College, Newtownbreda High School and Laurelhill Community College will also receive an outdoor gym in the coming months as part of the SEELB’s continuing investment.

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