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Al Haraka Baraka

Since launching the Al Haraka Baraka (‘movement is blessing’) programme earlier this year, more than 30 primary schools and 11,500 children have taken up the daily regimen of exercise. Now the programme is moving into its next phase – training teachers in the fundamentals of nutrition. Representatives from each participating school recently took part in the second Al Haraka Baraka workshop in Sharjah which featured presentations from Dr Abdulrahman Musaiger, co-ordinator of the Arab Centre for Nutrition and the UAE Ministry of Education.The Ministry’s long-term aim is to combat the lack of physical activity in children’s lifestyles that is contributing to the spread of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. The teaching resource was developed especially for the Gulf area by Master Foods Middle East, part of one of the world’s largest manufacturers of grocery products, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Arab Center for Nutrition. Arab experts in health and sports science spent two years researching the programme so that its components and mechanics would be most suitable for Arab communities.Naser Aman Al Rahma, director of the UAE’s Department of Sport & Health Programmes, said: “The starting point was to build healthy and active lifestyles by developing a daily habit of doing various physical activities at school and everywhere else."We are now moving to the next dimension by focusing on the nutrition element which is equally important in maintaining the correct balance of dietary intake and physical exercise that is essential for an optimum healthy lifestyle.” According to Christine Greaves, Master Foods’ external affairs manager, the enthusiastic response to Al Haraka Baraka has paved the way for launching into more schools during 2007 with the ultimate goal of reaching all UAE primaries. “The main aim of the programme is to encourage regular physical activity from an early age,” she said.“Al Haraka Baraka is designed for easy implementation within schools and classrooms and this latest workshop gives teachers the basic nutrition knowledge and to focus on balanced diet aspects along with the physical routines they are already practising.” According to international statistics, children are undertaking much less activity today than 30 years ago. Al Haraka Baraka compensates by providing teachers with a framework to build knowledge about healthy lifestyles. No investment in expensive apparatus is necessary beyond a skipping rope and a stop watch, along with four lesson plans and background information for teachers. The web-based programme provides work sheets, activity diaries, games, and a summary of 10 healthy tips for fitness as well as a special guide for parents to understand the programme and set positive examples at home. The final lesson suggests that children provide a demonstration to their peer group on what they have learned to encourage group activities such as sponsored walks and activity days. Master Foods aims to grow the website with feedback and images from participating schools, with prizes offered for the school that makes best use of the programme.


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