A county-wide campaign to encourage children to exercise has begun in Essex.
Active Essex claims that half of children in the county do not take part in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, prompting its #MoveWithUs scheme.
It has been developed by children and young people with support from the Essex Children’s Partnership Board.
The first classroom exercise sessions took place on 20 September.
The campaign consists of a social media campaign, challenges set by British gymnast Courtney Tulloch, who trains in Essex, and school activities throughout the next year.
Lee Monk from Active Essex, called on for local people “to really get behind a message that children being physically active will improve their physical and mental health”.
Pupils at Our Lady of Ransom Catholic Primary School in Rayleigh were among the first to take part.
Year five student Elia said: “I really love sports and it’s really nice because I like to encourage more children to enjoy not just what I enjoy but what they could become.”
Her classmate Harry said: “I’ve been trying to get more people active because if they are not active then it’s not good for their mental health.
“They might just be inside for a very long time and not get very good sleep.”
A spokesperson for Active Essex said their research showed that a quarter of young people in the county report a negative attitude towards physical activity.
The group’s chairman, Dr William Bird MBE, said exercise was key to combating “free radicals”, which cause inflammation.
“We now know [that they] cause depression, anxiety and dementia as well. Physical activity is the best anti-inflammatory.”